We Think The World of Youby J.R. Ackerley, P.N. Furbank
We Think the World of You combines acute social realism and dark fantasy, and was described by J.R. Ackerley as “a fairy tale for adults.” Frank, the narrator, is a middle-aged civil servant, intelligent, acerbic, self-righteous, angry. He is in love with Johnny, a young, married, working-class man with a sweetly easygoing nature. When Johnny is/i>… See more details below
We Think the World of You combines acute social realism and dark fantasy, and was described by J.R. Ackerley as “a fairy tale for adults.” Frank, the narrator, is a middle-aged civil servant, intelligent, acerbic, self-righteous, angry. He is in love with Johnny, a young, married, working-class man with a sweetly easygoing nature. When Johnny is sent to prison for committing a petty theft, Frank gets caught up in a struggle with Johnny’s wife and parents for access to him. Their struggle finds a strange focus in Johnny’s dog—a beautiful but neglected German shepherd named Evie. And it is she, in the end, who becomes the improbable and undeniable guardian of Frank’s inner world.
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I honestly find the other reviewer's disgust and boredom incomprehensible. The characters in this novel, including the narrator Frank and the dog Evie, are complex, fallible creatures. I prefer people, and literary characters, like that. It is a somewhat disturbing story: Frank's unrequited passion for Johnny is displaced (ultimately erased) by his growing love for Johnny's dog. Frank mocks the working class characters for their funny East End accents, and he abhors the neglect and casual cruelty to which they subject Evie, but they in turn manipulate him into giving them money. It seems they use the hackneyed expression 'we think the world of you' to occlude and excuse every kind of oblivious meanness. In the end, though, Frank realises - with Evie's help - that Johnny, Millie (a marvellous comic character) and Tom are enmeshed in a set of heterosexual and class relations quite alien to him as a cultured, middle class gay man, and that 'thinking the world of' people is their way of negotiating that complexity. At the same time, it's a beautiful evocation of love between a man and a dog, including all the tribulations to which it brings him. So, far from being miserable or boring, it's comic, perceptive and charming, veering towards dark acknowledgement, in the end, of the costs of passionate love.
Not a single character I liked; not even the damn dog. Question: with a million homeless dogs, why do you have to fall in love with somebody else's? Soup can of advice: If you live in a little studio apartment with a mean cousin, don't get an aggressive German Shepherd. I made the stupid mistake of thinking the end would justify the miserable story, based on raves of "Masterpiece." Then threw the book in disgust. User's guide: This is more about unrequited Platonic love of an old queen for a young, undeserving hustler, who has a wife and four kids no less. Putridly weak narrator.