I’m torn about how to review this book. I feel like I read it at the wrong time in my life. The Angry Young Men/Holden Caulfield thing was a lot more compelling to me when I was closer to adolescence. I have no idea what that realization means, but I think it might be a big one. I had also just read three strongly male-centric books before beginning this, and I think I was ready for a fleshed-out character who also happened to be a woman. This book certainly didn’t deliver on that.
As charming and Byronic as the protagonist Arthur is, we never see him grow or change. He doesn’t face any challenges or interesting circumstances. He charms his way through a monotonous life with varying degrees of success, but never finds a new tactic. While that doesn’t make for a compelling read, but doesn’t bother me completely. What I struggled with was the abruptness with which he settled in the end. I felt like the author stopped writing because ran out of things to say or needed to make a deadline. As for the girl that Arthur ends up with, if the author can’t bother to give her any merits, flaws, or motivation, how is the reader supposed to understand why Arthur, apropos of nothing, abandons his lifestyle for her?
My favorite thing about Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was the language and setting. It took a few chapters to adjust to the dialogue being written with an accent, but it’s done well. Also, I always love when a book grounds its characters in the kitchen. My grandmother, who I’m very close to, grew up in post-WWII Scotland, and is constantly making me tea when I see her. Reading this book and especially the scenes where Arthur has a cuppa, reminded me of her in the best way. The BBC show Call the Midwife reminds me of her as well. It’s worth checking out if enjoy 1940-1950’s British dramas, but avoid it if you prefer not to see a lot of childbirth.
Would I read more by this author?: I would, but more to capture the moment in time than for compelling characters.