The L-Shaped Room Author:Lynne Reid Banks English critics greeted this first novel as the work of a mature, honest, and extravagantly gifted writer. Like a number of other young English novelists and playwrights, Lynne Reid Banks is concerned with the angers, the frustrations, the sparks that fly when an individual is out of step with society. Unlike others, though, she gives us a prota... more »gonist without an ounce of self-pity; one who can cope.
The novel is set in London. The heroine is Jane-a girl in her twenties who has taken a fling at acting and has now steeled down to a public relations job for a large London hotel. Her dilemma is no less difficult for being classic: she is pregnant after one unsatisfactory night with a young man she doesn't love. As a result, her proper Victorian father has turned her out of the house, leaving her to find a place where she can live cheaply and anonymously; where she can wait.
The place she finds is a rooming house in the Fulham "bedsitter belt"-where upper-middle-class families once lived in plush-and-crystal comfort-now a degenerate retreat for Bohemians, rebels, and various oddments of humanity.
On the top floor lives a huge, sentimental Negro guitar player who haunts a Soho night club for his livelihood. One floor below, a young writer; and still lower, a former lady of the theatre living on past glories and gossip. In the basement: professional quarters for two streetwalkers. The L-shaped room, five flights up, is Jane's.
The novel revolves around the unique experiences of Jane as, defiant and alone, she takes up lodgings in the L-shaped room. Its fascination lies in the author's powerful handling of a woman in the act of turning to face life, admitting her need for human relationships, but denying the false ones (the friends who offer money and pills for abortion; the father of her child who proposes marriage to punish himself; the young writer who uses her as an excuse for his own personal failures); a woman contriving, through courage and determination, to come to terms with herself and with the future.« less