Review: New Grub Street

New Grub Street
New Grub Street by George Gissing
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is centred upon the struggles of literary men especially Edwin Reardon and Jasper Milvain. Edwin Reardon is a married man and is feeling the pressure to write in such a pace to support his family. His future does not look promising nor does his wife looks at him the way he used to remember her to. Jasper Milvain is young and ambitious. Whilst he’s not in such a financial strait, he cannot afford to marry without sufficient dowry yet temptation may prove too great for him to resist.

”…a broad, flabby face, the colour of an ancient turnip, save where one of the cheeks was marked with a mulberry stain; … for moustache, what looked like a bit of discoloured tow, and scraps of similar material hanging beneath his creasy chin represented a beard. His garb must have seen a great deal of Museum service;…his linen made distinct appeal to the laundress.”

I didn’t expect to like this novel as much as I did. It is actually a rather sad novel as these characters struggle with poverty and the effects of such penury have on people and relationships. I find author’s descriptions to be both amusing and depressing.

”Love is one of the first things to be frightened away by poverty.”

There was also the reflection of mismatches in marriages and there were a few in this book. It wasn’t just the absence of money but also of intellect and a little of ‘class’ (though this last point is rather about the lack of education than anything else, I think). Though most characters seem to have deserved their ends in this book, there is one whom I have wished more for.

“It has been repeated often enough that vice leads to misery; will no man declare that misery leads to vice?”

One would wish to believe that strength of character surely will prevail and the romantics (me, for one) would also wish to believe that love prevails over all. The practical side of me knows however that this is just not realistic. The poignancy of this novel really touched me (I even broke down & cried at one point) but it was overall a very enjoyable read and still relevant in today’s world.

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