Books Articles

Four interesting pubs in novels

(Not necessarily the ones we’d drink in)

1. The Condemn'd Man

in Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (£7.99, Penguin) Capable young lady Flora Poste goes to live with her surprisingly gothic distant relations following the death of her parents. Cold Comfort Farm’s nearest village is Howling. The Condemn’d Man in Howling is run by Mrs Murther who will only do lunches on special occasions. Flora goes to buy her own steak and is, in the end, offered vegetables to go with it and an apple tart for afters.

2. Jamaica Inn

in Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier (£8.99, Little Brown) Mary must also go and live with relatives after being orphaned. This time, her aunt and uncle in a remote pub high on the Cornish moors. The guest rooms are “fit only for rats and mice”, but on the nights they open “the shouting and the singing can be heard as far down as the farms below Roughtor”. Grim and full of criminals, but with the bonus of a sexy horse thief to flirt with.

3. The Midnight Bell

in The Midnight Bell by Patrick Hamilton (£9.99, Vintage) The first novel in Patrick Hamilton’s Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky trilogy, The Midnight Bell is the name of both novel and pub. Bob, the barman, falls hopelessly in love with sex worker Jenny. Bob’s story isn’t anything you’d want to emulate, but the pub itself sounds quite pleasant: “No scene for the brawler, but rather for the principled and restrained drinker, with his wife.”

4. O’Connells

in White Teeth by Zadie Smith (£8.99, Penguin) O’Connells sounds like a run-of-the-mill grotty north London boozer, but for lifelong friends Samad and Archie it’s an escape from daily life and domesticity. "O'Connell's is an Irish pool house run by Arabs with no pool tables … there are reasons why the pustule-covered Mickey will cook you chips, egg and beans, or egg, chips and beans, or beans, chips, eggs and mushrooms but not, under any circumstances, chips, beans, eggs and bacon."

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