Thursday, 9 December 2010

Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

"Hale knew they meant to murder him before he had been in Brighton three hours."

Bright Rock begins with one of the best opening lines (and has one of the best finishing lines) which perfectly sets the scene for an edge of your seat thrilling first chapter where the two main protagonists are introduced, Ida and Pinkie.

Pinkie is an interesting character. A murderer, mob member and all round nasty boy (he is only 17) he finds himself in a predicament when he is forced to marry the character Rose because he is a witness to the crime committed in the first chapter. Pinkie was also brought up a strict Catholic and as a result he spends large parts of the book pondering over mortal sin. He is also disgusted by the idea of intimacy and sex and believes that hell is all around him, he believes he is living in it.

Ida Arnold on the other hand lives life to the full and is the sort of character that will embrace life and everything it has to offer. Ida knows Pinkie is a murderer and she sets out to follow and torment him and Rose until he confesses. Ida is a huge contrast to Rose, the other main female character. Whereas Ida is feisty and street smart, Rose is submissive and infuriatingly naïve.

The action calms down after chapter one to accommodate the themes above and to allow for character development. The novel does have suspense and has a gritty realism feel to it, but I did feel as though it went on slightly too long and I found parts of the ending a little far fetched. There were also a few plot holes in the main story (why not just kill Rose) but overall I enjoyed very much my first Graham Greene novel.

Verdict 4/5

They have made a new film version which is due for release in the UK in February and here is the trailer.

Dame Helen Mirren is playing Ida and as she is much older than the Ida in the book I think they have changed the story slightly to accommodate the actresses age. I am assuming this is because British films get a special grant if they cast either Dame Helen Mirren or Dame Judy Dench?

The other thing that me and Chris noticed from watching the trailer was that despite the story being set in Brighton, and the main characters being born in Brighton, all of the actors speak with a cockney London accent. Not just any London accent but a breathy 'I'm a gangster and I'll give you the concrete boots' cockney accent. Its the south coast of England FFS. However I'm sure most of the audience won't care about that and I'm sure it won't spoil the film, but nobody from Brighton talks like that.

Posted by Jess

Ida Arnold: "I'm like those sticks of rock. Bite all the way down, and it'll still read 'Brighton.'"


  1. I admit, I'm scared of Graham Greene...

  2. This sounds excellent. I've only read short pieces by Graham Greene, but I've enjoyed all of those.

  3. it is many years since I read this but certainly interested to hear about the film, thanks for including the trailer.

  4. This is going to be released in big screen soon??!! I must read it!! :)

  5. I love Graham Greene but I haven't read this one yet. I have this fantasy of starting a perpetual Graham Greene challenge, but I know I would be an unreliable host!

  6. This title and The Power and the Glory are on my list, but like Amanda, I'm a little scared of him. Perhaps I just need to tackle one of his books!

  7. Amanda - if it helps, most of hs novels are mostly under 200 pages.

    Zara - I didn't realise he had shorter pieces TBH

    LindyLouMac - I can't decide if want to watch the film yet, I think it comes out the same month as Never Let me Go.

    JoV - ah yes in Feb. I wonder how it will differ to the original film actually.

    Shelley - that would be a good challenge er but I'd also be useless as a host LOL

    Allie - I didn't find him at all difficult to read and I read the book quite quickly. Compared to some of the hard stuff you read I think your find him a breeze.

  8. I have never read any Graham Greene and I admit I belong to the group of people that is a little scared of him. But maybe I should give him a try since you make him sound less scary in your post and comments..

  9. I love Graham Greene. I don't know why anyone would be afraid of him. I've always found him very entertaiing and readable, almost like a writer of supermarket bestsellers.

    But, if you are afraid of him, try starting with Our Man in Havana. It's lighthearted, satirical, quite funny. an easy way to start reading him.

    I tried Brighton Rock last year and didn't get in to it. I think it was me, so Im' going to give it another try sometime.

  10. Iris - I can't understand why ppl are afraid of him, honestly his books are normally under 200 pages and quite easy to read. I think hes someone with an intimadating repretation.

    C.B.James - My friend had to study Graham Greene as part of her English degree and she said that Brighton Rock was one of her least faves so your not alone with that!

    I have brought Our Man in Havana and the Quiet American which I heard are quite good. I think I only started with Brighton Rock because they made a film out of it staring Richard Attenborough.

    I have no idea why ppl find him scary, I didn't realise he had such a repretation.

  11. I too love GG, having devoured most of his books some years ago. What I should do now is re-read them ...