Book Review: Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, 1938

The Reading Bug

“People change,’ she said
‘Oh, no they don’t. Look at me. I’ve never changed. It’s like those sticks of rock: bite it all the way down, you’ll still read Brighton. That’s human nature.”

Greene’s 1938 novel of gang warfare in Brighton pulls off a rare achievement – it is atBrighton Rock By Graham Greene once both an adventure story and a serious mediation on good and evil. I was blown away by it; not necessarily by the plot (the ending is largely predictable) but by the quality of the prose. Greene’s control of language is masterful throughout, and virtually every sentence is a gem.

Charles Hale comes to Brighton to distribute cards for a newspaper competition. Hale has somehow underestimated the antipathy felt for him by a local gang, a mistake he quickly comes to regret. The novel tells the reader as much with the ominous opening line:

“Hale knew, before he had been…

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