Monday, 20 April 2015

The homecoming by Harold Pinter


Time has come to tell you what I think of the 1965 Goodreads Galore Challenge. Mona Lisa and I each read a book from 1965 (and all years to the present for that matter). The book is to be read and reviewed on the blog within three weeks time and published on the blog. If either one fails to do so, he or she must write a guest post on the other blog about a subject of the winners choice. We were both late and decided that we would post today.

In 1965 I was six years old and far to young to read any Pinter book. I have never seen his plays or read his books, but I have had heard of him, of course. "The homecoming" was therefore my first
acquaintance with this play and also it has been a long time since I have read a play. Pinters book has many directions for its players what to do. Surprising how accepted smoking was in those days, there are a lot of people smoking in the play! Some things do change over time.

The story

Anyway let me tell you in short what the story is about (and I spoil it for everyone that still wants to read it):

In the homecoming the father Max the father treats his sons in a verbal abusive way. His wife has died and he lives with his sons Lenny, a pimp, and Joey, a boxer. Both sons are violent too, at least in words. Uncle Sam lives is a chauffeur and is part of the "unit", as this family calls themselves.
Teddy, Max oldest son Teddy, a professor in philosophy comes home in England to introduce his wife Ruth. He has been married for over six years and they have three children in America. The play ends shortly after Teddy leaves for America without Ruth. Except for Uncle Sam, all the others including Teddy himself encourage Ruth to remain with the family in England and earn her keep, they propose, as a prositute. She answers that there are certain terms to be met:
"I would want at least three rooms and a bathroom"
"All aspects of agreement and conditions of employment would have to be clarified to our mutual satisfaction before we finalized the contract".

Main theme

This play was interesting because the central theme is the power exchange between men and women. Now why do you think I would be interested in that subject? And in this book nothing is like it seems it is. The male figures are outwardly appearing to have strength and power through their confident natures it would appear that they were in control. But Ruth had no problem in dealing with all three men in the family.

Max, the father figure, behaves like the old pack leader: he is trying to maintain a position of dominance. Ruth’s initial introduction to the family is Max: “I’ve never had a whore under this roof before. Ever since your mother died.” Her husband Teddy interrupts: “She’s my wife! We are married!”. But Max doesn’t care: We had a pox-ridden slut in my house all night. 
Lenny, the pimp that brags about his abuse to women, is paid back with sexual dominance: "And now", he says "I will relieve you of that glass", and she answers back "If you take the glass.... I'll take you.." And she turns away and leaves. 

Nothing is like it seems in this book. There is even doubt if Ruth really consents in the agreement of prostitution: she uses the word "would", so maybe she is just using this to leave her boring husband and take on a adventurous life in England.

What did I think of it?

It is a fascinating book. I have read it three times before I could write the review. Weird at times. Strange, Bizarre. But that is what is good play is all about isn't it? To leave the theatre and think: What??? And that is the feeling when you have put down this book: What???

As you can see I have put down the book, but I'm not ready with it yet.  (4 stars in the silly rating system)


  1. Omg, Han what a review and what a book. You made me curious about it. I will absolute read it Sometimes .
    Thank you , Han, I really enjoyed your post.
    Well done!!!!!!

    Mona Lisa

    1. Thank you Mona Lisa, it is kind of you to say. I don't know if you will like the book though, but it is a real thin book, so I would say give it a try sometime.

      Thank you for your kind words,

  2. Most definitely made me curious about the story Han. If I understood you correctly...Teddy and Ruth left their children in America when they came to visit? If so, I have an issue with a woman who would leave her children (as in not return to them) so not sure I could read it with an open mind. Thanks for sharing.

    Hugs and blessings...

    1. It isn't a book full of likeable characters, Cat. I didn't like neither the woman nor the men in the play. But it is a book that you will find a new layer each time you read it.

      The assumptions you made at first time are often questionable when you analyse the lines or even the words themselves. And of course it is a book written in the middle of the sixties, at the peak of the sexual revolution.

      In that sense it is a real play: it twists and turns until it leaves the audience with: What?


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