The narrator of Neighbours is a young writer who has taken a room in the attic of a lodging house, where he hopes to find a quiet atmosphere in which to work. One night, the sound of laughter outside his door alerts him to the existence of Victor, a fellow lodger in an adjoining room. The narrator feels an immediate and inexplicable hatred for his unwanted neighbour, which develops into an obsession as he listens to Victor’s fervent conversations and amorous adventures through the thin wall and records it all in minute detail on endless sheets of paper. His morbid fascination with Victor gradually begins to dominate his existence, leading to a shocking climax when he finally resolves to destroy his neighbour, the man he blames for ruining his life . . .
Claude Houghton (1889-1961) won a devoted cult following in the 1930s with I Am Jonathan Scrivener (1930) and This Was Ivor Trent (1935), psychological thrillers with brilliantly sharp dialogue and unusual metaphysical themes. This edition of his astonishingly original first novel, Neighbours (1926), is the first in over 75 years and features a new introduction by Mark Valentine.
“[G]rew upon me with every page, until I came to the dramatic climax … often brilliant … [with] the brilliance of fever, almost of delirium.” – Punch
“It is very shocking … [Houghton] has proved himself to possess considerable talent.” – Spectator
“Neighbours is a novel about ideas concerning life. It is full of dialogue, and good dialogue. It has beautiful moments. It is original.” – Arnold Bennett, Evening Standard
“In Claude Houghton’s work you have come to expect not only an unusual and fast-moving story, but one with its hidden excitements or seeming touch of fantasy, the significance of which may not be apparent until you have reached the last page.” – Sunday Times
“His novels bring us the finest and most firmly thought-out exposition of the spiritual problem of modern times.” – New York Times
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars
This book was an ABSOLUTE whirlwind!! I had my doubts at first about this book because my typical genre has been YA, and books that I have been reading right now have been written in recent years. I never thought I would pick up a book written in 1926, but I was curious as to what it was about. In the beginning, I struggled a little to understand what was happening. Once I got over the fact that this WASNT a typical book I would normally read, I finally began to understand it. This book has what I love most about books: AMAZING quotes/ intriguing theories. There were so many theories about people, how they interact with one another, and how one perceives life to be. I was blown away by the words in the story, and loved the way in which the characters spoke to one another and discussed ideas (which seems to be so rare nowadays). This is one case that I was glad I judged a book by its cover, because I was curious to find out the story behind the haunting cover. I would recommend this book to people over 18… Simply because of the in-depth conversations the characters have and the different ways in which people speak to one another, compared to now. Please read!!