Coming Up for Air is a novel by George Orwell, first published in June 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. It combines premonitions of the impending war with images of an idyllic Thames-side Edwardian era childhood. The novel is pessimistic—commercialism and capitalism are killing the best of rural England, "everything cemented over", and there are great new external threats.
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Orwell's overlooked classic
While this might not be orwell's greatest work from cover to cover, it has some of his most insightful writing. The story centers around george bowling, an alienated middle-aged family man trying to make desperate sense of what his life has become in 20th century england. The emptiness that consumes Bowling is perhaps best displayed in a classic scene as he visits his family's gravesite. While sometimes funny, coming up for air is really a harrowing journey of one man stripping away all the illusions of the past in order to come to grips with a world he no longer understands ... Or perhaps never even understood.