Take a Girl Like You may well be Kingsley Amis’s most ambitious reckoning with the serious subject at the heart of his work: the sheer squalor—emotional, material, sexual, you name it—of modern life. It also introduces one of the rare unqualified good guys in Amis’s rogue-ridden world: Jenny Bunn, a girl from the (English) north country come south to teach school in a small smug town where she hopes to find love and fortune. Jenny is a beauty and men and women are crazy about her, most of all handsome Patrick Standish, who Jenny also likes. But Jenny and Patrick live in a world where it’s becoming ridiculously difficult—disastrously difficult—to sort out the claims of sex and the claims of love.
Incendiary stuff…a really formidable blaze.
—Karl Miller, The Observer
Has the comic gusto, the loathing of pretension that made Lucky Jim so engaging and high-spirited.
—Elizabeth Jennings, The Listener
Jenny is the most serious and most successful character in Amis’s work… . She is an improbable but convincing blend of sexy good looks with solid domestic instincts, feminine gentleness with the toughness of the slums. One of the funniest scenes Amis has written is the triumph of Jenny as a schoolmistress—twisting arms, dodging verbal filth, and maintaining order among her little hoodlums with a ladylike ruthlessness all her own. Jenny rightly holds the center of the stage.
—Ellen Moers, Commentary