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Reviews of Henry Henry by Allen Bratton

Henry Henry

by Allen Bratton

Henry Henry by Allen Bratton X
Henry Henry by Allen Bratton
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2024, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Book Summary

Crackling with intelligence and wit, Henry Henry is a brilliant recasting of the Henriad in which Hal Lancaster is a queer protagonist for a new era.

Two stars keep not their motion in one sphere...

It's London, 2014, and Hal Lancaster, son and heir of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, is in a holding pattern: his mother is dead, his father is dying or remarrying or both, his siblings are fighting, his internship is pointless, and nobody will leave him alone.

Everything is as it should be and yet nothing is right. Over the course of a year of partying, drinking, and flirting to dubious consequence, Hal is tested by brutal family legacies, Catholic guilt, and the terrifying possibility of being loved. All of which is complicated by a pattern of abuse that threatens to chase Hal into adulthood. The House of Lancaster will never be the same.

Allen Bratton arrives as a successor to Waugh and St. Aubyn with this lush, stylish novel of family, legacy, and what it means to be alive today.

PART ONE
LAUGH NOW CRY LATER

ONE

At Jack's flat, he let you smoke indoors. Hal went out for a fag anyway and saw that the sun had risen; there was warm spring light on him. He walked up the road against a perpetual flow of small children in embroidered jumpers and rounded collars, and got on a bus that would take him northwest across the Thames. The sun was on his right shoulder and his temple was on the window. He struggled to fix his eyes on the back of the man in front of him. His own stink hovered about him: skunky weed, spilled Pimm's and gin, cigarettes smoked in a flat that had had a lot of cigarettes smoked in it before, the vile mix of sweat and deodorant that had congealed under his armpits and was soaking through his pale blue oxford shirt. Sensing he was about to feel very bad, he took his aviators off the neck of his shirt and put them on his face. The bus was passing across Vauxhall Bridge; the sun was in the scummy green water, making it look almost translucent, as if it ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Allen Bratton's Henry Henry chronicles a year in the life of Hal Lancaster. Readers already familiar with Shakespeare's history plays will immediately recognize the landscape of Bratton's novel in this modern-day queer reimagining of the Henriad. There's Hal, the disaffected, wayward son; Henry, the stoic, dutiful father; Ned Poins, the working class, rowdy youth with whom Hal spends his days; Falstaff, the has-been drunkard who's obsessed with Hal; and Harry Percy, the rival, the golden boy—the dutiful son who exhibits all the ideal aristocratic traits Hal lacks. Readers unfamiliar with the narrative off which Bratton is riffing will lose very little in translation, as Bratton's characters are vividly realized, all authentic in their own right...continued

Full Review Members Only (523 words)

(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

New York Times
With this reimagining, Bratton has created a marvelously detailed world of supernumerary aristocrats, as rich, toxic and wild as the best entries in the Real Housewives franchise.

Daily Mail (UK)
Dark and gripping… I couldn't put it down.

Literary Review
Bratton's prose assumes a directness that avoids sensationalism with as much skill as it steers clear of moralism and sentimentalism.

Telegraph (UK)
Fun...Bratton has a sharp eye for the absurdities of the white-saviour ex-public-schoolboy. And there's a keen sense of the aching fugue of one's early twenties.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
At times witty and at others harrowing, Bratton's book memorably explores the unexpected depths of its protagonist. This novel revisits classic literature but never feels beholden to it.

Publishers Weekly
Darkly witty... a chronicle of survival and healing from generational trauma.

Author Blurb Isaac Fitzgerald, author of Dirtbag Massachusetts
Allen Bratton's Henry Henry brilliantly highlights the tension between history and modernity, power and freedom, and fathers and sons. A darkly humorous examination of the weight of privilege packed with drugs, dicks, Catholicism, cigarettes, and, yes, love— Henry Henry is a sharply-written party you don't want to miss.

Author Blurb Jeremy O. Harris, playwright of Slave Play
Not only is Henry Henry one of the first books of the year that has inspired an audible gasp, it's also the years finest debut. It has the power to reinvigorate literature with the type of daring prose that is becoming much too rare.

Author Blurb Raven Leilani, author of Luster
Henry Henry is carnal and precise, a challenging taxonomy of familial and personal failure that Bratton renders without tidiness or judgment.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Shakespeare's Henriad

Title page of Shakespeare's Henry VAllen Bratton's Henry Henry is a retelling of Shakespeare's "Henriad," a term used in Shakespearean scholarship to refer to the four plays chronicling the rise of Henry V, or Prince Hal, to the throne.

These four plays begin, chronologically, with Richard II, based on the life of King Richard II, who ruled from 1377 to 1399. Richard, a feckless, egotistical leader, is deposed by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, who then becomes King Henry IV (Hal's father, Henry, Duke of Lancaster in Bratton's novel).

Hal, the basis for Bratton's protagonist, isn't introduced on stage until the following play: Henry IV Part 1. When we meet the heir to the throne in Shakespeare's play, he's ...

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Read-Alikes

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