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Anyone tempted to spurn convention in favour of taking the road less travelled would do well to consult George Orwell. Keep the Aspidistra Flying (Penguin Modern Classics) brilliantly describes the tension between being true to an ideal and the necessity to live in the so-called ‘real world’. Middle class, middle aged Gordon Comstock is caught in a struggle between his respectable but dull job and a pull towards a loftier, literary existence, which is more true to himself. He finds though, that his principled rejection of the modern world and its relentless capitalism leads only to unhappiness. The question then is whether he can he find contentment in the conventional? In the end, does he capitulate or merely reassess what he wants from life? Is it simply the poverty resulting from his failed literary ambitions which forces him back into the arms of the mainstream? Or can fulfillment be found in suburbia after all? A novel for anyone who has ever dreamt of moving to the country to make a living selling vegetables at the local farmer’s market (and for would-be writers).

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