That Uncertain Feeling, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In That Uncertain Feeling by Kingsley Amis, competition is stiff for the position of sub-librarian in Aberdarcy Library.

For John Lewis, the situation is complicated by the attentions of daunting and desirable village socialite, Elizabeth Gruffyd-Williams, who is married to a member of the local Council.

Pursuing an affair with her whilst keeping his job prospects alive is John's predicament, as he finds himself running down Welsh country lanes at midnight in a wig and dress, resisting the advances of local drunks and suffering the long speeches of a 'nut-faced' clergyman.At times tenderly satirical and at times riotously slap-stick, Amis sends up an array of rural stereotypes in this story about a man who doesn't know what he wants.Kingsley Amis's (1922-95) works take a humorous yet highly critical look at British society, especially in the period following the end of World War II.

Born in London, Amis explored his disillusionment in novels such as That Uncertain Feeling (1955).

His other works include The Green Man (1970), Stanley and the Women (1984), and The Old Devils (1986), which won the Booker Prize.

Amis also wrote poetry, criticism, and short stories.


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Very readable, albeit with an implausible upbeat ending. This book reminded me a bit of the John Updike Rabbit books. From what I recall, they also featured a central character who was unsure about what he really wanted, was easily distracted and tempted, and was intrinsically lazy. John Lewis, an assistant librarian, in a small Welsh mining town, becomes involved with the flirtatious wife of a successful businessman who has influence over library job appointments. She promises him a guaranteed promotion. To say that John Lewis doesn't know what he wants is an understatement - and on one level this novel is his journey to some kind of wisdom and self-insight. I suspect the book's themes might have had greater resonance in 1955, when the book was first published: disdain for pretension, self-effacing commentaries, the sense of being stifled by social structures, retreating into alcohol as a coping mechanism, manipulation, hypocrisy, etc.Despite some weighty themes, in common with Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis's first novel (and the only other one I have read), this book is very well written, with credible and recognisable characters, and has some amusing moments, including one laugh out loud chapter of high farce. Kingsley Amis appears to really enjoy making fun of his characters, most of whom are flawed and faintly ludicrous. A satisfying, sporadically funny, well written book that is very much of its time.

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