About the book
'Living introduced a whole school of proletarian literature, and yet remains apart from, and superior to, any of its followers' Times Literary Supplement
The Duprets, upper-class owners of a Birmingham iron-foundry, struggle to keep the business going in the 1920s, while young Lily Gates keeps house for three men who are employed there: the patriarchal Craigan, who owns the house; her worthless father Joe; and stalwart Jim, who is bashfully courting her. Sensing, however, that life must hold greater excitement than she can hope for in this closed little world, Lily succumbs to the bolder approach of a rival suitor, Bert, who takes her to the pictures and, eventually, to Liverpool with a view to a new life in Canada. Bert is not destined to stay the course, though, and the affair ends in tears. Bravely Lily returns to her threadbare household.
'Living is a book about how people really live: their hopes, but also their compromises and defeats' Jeremy Treglown
'The best novel of working-class factory life we have' Walter Allen
'His terrain here is close to D.H. Lawrence's, with the difference that whereas Lawrence escaped from the working class, Green escaped into it...His feat of equilibrium was to show lives whose impoverishment he fully recognized as nevertheless sites of comedy, excitement, complex feeling, and beauty' John Updike