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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

George Orwell's paean to the end of an idyllic era in British history, Coming Up for Air is a poignant account of one man's attempt to recapture childhood innocence as war looms on the horizon. 

George Bowling, 45, mortgaged, married with children, is an insurance salesman with an expanding waistline, a new set of false teeth - and a desperate desire to escape his dreary life. He fears modern times - since, in 1939, the Second World War is imminent - foreseeing food queues, soldiers, secret police and tyranny. So he decides to escape to the world of his childhood, to the village he remembers as a rural haven of peace and tranquillity. But his return journey to Lower Binfield may bring only a more complete disillusionment.

Public Domain (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Coming Up for Air

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Top reading

All of Orwell's books are brilliant. This one shines brightly too. So funny and easy to read or listen to. The reader is ideal. No nonense get on with it & cheerful. Just like Bowling himself. Funny how little known this book is. Orwell's tally of books was on the slight side. But what quality!

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A lesser known gem

If you have any nostalgia, aspiration, or hope remaining in middle age, Orwell will crush that right out of you. Try not to wince at the casual misogyny and anti-semitism and just drift along with the hopelessness of it all. Daniel Rigby gets the tone spot on with his voicing of our putative 'hero'. Marvellous stuff.

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An important book for our times!

For me this is book is up there with 1984 and Animal Farm. The ideas within are later to be echoed in these his most famous works. In many ways a reading of Coming Up for Air is helpful towards fully understanding the themes of 1984 in particular - eg there is a fascinating section on hate speech. It is well written, insightful and gets you thinking … and just as the book was anticipating the move toward a Second World War in 1939, so the the mood and ambience of this book can be easily translated to our own age as we anticipate the continued decline of our quality of life in the 2020’s and the increasing international tensions and collapse of modern society gathers momentum. At it’s core is the gradual stripping away of our humanity and quality of life and the removal of our inherent spirituality as the political systems that shape our world tighten their grip.

The books is well read but for me the voice sounds too young for the central character - however it is the best narrated version currently available as far as I am aware and definitely still worth getting. If you enjoy his other works then this is a MUST!

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Orwell almost at his best

I give this straight fives but that's with a bit of rounding up. The quality of Orwell's prose is evident though if you have read his best known works and are looking for something more I would recommend Burmese Days in preference (and that assumes you have finished Keep the Aspidistra flying, which is one of my all time audible favourites).

The main interest here is the very detailed picture it portrays of daily life in Britain just before the war: the grind, the financial struggles, the things ordinary people could buy and the things they couldn't. Orwell was alive at the time and knew what he was writing about.

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Escape

Escape and wander with the story. Perfectly written. Very apt to today and everyday.

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Great story on nostalgia with solid narration

Coming up for air? There is no air!

Enjoyed this exploration of nostalgia. George Bowling, a 45 year old insurance salesman that anticipates a second world war coming, dreams of going back to his childhood city, Lower Binfield. He remembers his youth and the city fondly. His nostalgia seems mostly triggered by his unhappiness with his current condition. He has money problems, is fed up with his wife and children, expects another world war and is unhappy with his position in life. Everything was better back then. However, once he returns to Lower Binfield, he changes his mind.

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Classic story, well read by Rigby

A great story from Orwell about life during wartime Britain. Read clearly and fluidly in a neutral accent by Rigby. Great accentuation and passion in his voice when required.

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Nice little book

an easy going, fishing related book which was nice to listen to while spending a couple of nights on a lake fishing