SLIGHTLY FOXED EDITIONS No. 27 MARRYING OUT Harold Carlton (first published as The Handsomest Sons in the World)
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Marrying Out (No. 27)

  • Pages: 288
  • Format: 170 x 110mm
  • Publication date: Sept 2014
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Cloth hardback
  • Trimmings: Coloured endpapers; silk ribbon, head- & tailband; gold blocking to spine; blind blocking to front
  • NB: Hand-numbered limited edition of 2,000
  • ISBN: 978-1-906562-67-0
  • Number in SFE series: 27
  • Preface by: Oliver Pritchett
  • First published by: Duckworth in 2011 as The Handsomest Sons in the World!
Made in Britain

Marrying Out (No. 27)

Harold Carlton

From£17 UK RRP: £18.50

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‘Several kisses, each a suction-pad of love, were plonked over my face. Thrusting me back to arm’s length again she scrutinized me, staring into my very soul. How she loved us! Her eyes brimmed with tears, as if such love was too much to ask a human being to bear . . .’

It is a Saturday afternoon in the 1950s, and Harold Carlton (lightly disguised as Howard Conway) is being given a characteristic welcome by his grandmother at the door of her mansion flat just off London’s Edgware Road. Like everything about Grandma – her food, her décor, her make-up, her fears, her joys, her sorrows – it’s excessive, overwhelming. She is the monstrous yet entirely believable figure who dominates this darkly comic story of a Jewish family’s rise and fall, as seen through the eyes of a teenage boy who has something of Adrian Mole about him – for Howard has discovered Freud.

You don’t have to be Jewish to recognize the characters in this dysfunctional family – Howard’s dyspeptic and dominating father, grimly running his father-in-law’s handbag factory; his delightful but dissatisfied mother, trapped (initially anyway) in an unsatisfactory marriage; Howard’s brother and sister, who provide a kind of background chorus; lovable, easy-going Grandad, with his surprise secret life; and Grandma herself, the arch manipulator and expert in emotional blackmail, determined to foil her youngest son’s plans to marry a shiksa – a non-Jewish girl – by shipping him off to join his brother in New York.

When the two brothers return full of New World entrepreneurial spirit it all rebounds, of course, in an awful yet irresistibly hilarious way. Though light-heartedly written, Marrying Out is a brilliantly observed study of family dynamics, and of a certain kind of Jewish life in 1950s North London.

‘I loved this book so much that I will be pressing it into the hands of family and friends for a long time to come. ’ Amanda Craig, Jewish Chronicle

‘Sunday Times Culture Magazine 2001’ 100 Best Books of the Year

‘Marvellous stuff . . .’

‘While I am not purchasing today, I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed books I bought from you. They include A House in Flanders, and Marrying Out. Marvellous stuff. Thank you, from a fan in...

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  1. Amanda Craig, The Jewish Chronicle says:

    Beautifully observed, poignant, affectionate and thoughtful, this sublime comedy is to urban families what Stella Gibbons’s classic Cold Comfort Farm is to those living in the country.

    The film rights should be snapped up immediately, especially as any actress of a certain age would fight to play Grandma, the equal of Gibbons’s Aunt Ada Doom with her orange-dyed hair, chalk-white face, scarlet lips, jewels and painted talons. Howard’s mother, as she finds new confidence running her café in Soho, and running away with an Italian waiter, is also a gem.

    Slightly Foxed deserve huge praise for rescuing this memoir from its unappealing original title and bringing it to a new audience. I loved this book so much that I will be pressing it into the hands of family and friends for a long time to come.

  2. Simon Thomas, Shiny New Books Blog says:

    I am an enormous fan of Slightly Foxed Editions, which are reprints of memoirs published in beautiful little hardbacks, complete with their own bookmark-ribbons. Obviously the books are beautiful objects, but more than that, the contents are extraordinary. The series seems to curate the best memoirs of the 20th century.

    So I was quite surprised to see that their latest title Marrying Out (originally published as The Most Handsome Sons in the World!) was only published in 2001. Would something so recent fit well in the SF canon? Well, I needn’t have worried. Carlton’s memoir is every bit as beautiful, moving, memorable, and well-written as the others in the Slightly Foxed stable.