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Riceyman Steps (Dodo Press) [Paperback]

Arnold Bennett
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 12.32 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 April 2008 1409908267 978-1409908265
Enoch Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was a British novelist. He was born in a modest house in Hanley in the Potteries district of Staffordshire. At age 21 he went to London as a solicitor's clerk. He won a literary competition in Tit Bits magazine in 1889 and was encouraged to take up journalism full time. From 1900 he devoted himself full time to writing, giving up the editorship and writing much serious criticism, and also theatre journalism, one of his special interests. In 1902 Anna of the Five Towns, the first of a succession of stories which detailed life in the Potteries, appeared. In 1908 The Old Wives' Tale was published, and was an immediate success throughout the English-speaking world. His most famous works are the Clayhanger (1910) trilogy and The Old Wives' Tale. These books draw on his experience of life in the Potteries, as did most of his best work. Among his other books are: The Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), The Grim Smile of the Five Towns (1907), Hilda Lessways (1911), The Author's Craft (1914), The Lion's Share (1916), and The Roll-Call (1919).

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Product details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Dodo Press (11 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409908267
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409908265
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,423,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arnold Bennett was a playwright, essayist, critic and journalist. Born in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, and the eldest child of a pawnbroker who had bettered himself and become a solicitor. He became a solicitors clerk at frist in his father's office, and from 1889 in London. He joined the staff of Woman magazine and later became editor. His first novel to be published, A Man From the North appeared in 1898. He went on to write is famous Five Towns Novels, but never returned to the Potteries of his birth. He died on 27 March 1931 from typhoid shortly after a visit to France. His ashes are buried in the cemetery at Burslem, Stoke on Trent. His grandson, Denis Eldin, is the President of the Society and lives in Paris. The Society have just published "Punch & Judy" Arnold Bennett and Silent Cinema, with an introduction by John Shapcott, Keele University - further details on our website at www.arnoldbennettsociety.org.uk

Product Description


Bennett writes magnificently of the little movements of the spirit in its daily routine --Margaret Drabble --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Enoch Arnold Bennett, the son of a solicitor, was born in Hanley, Staffordshire. At twenty-one, he moved to London, initially to work as a solicitor's clerk, but he soon turned to writing popular serial fiction and editing a women's magazine. After the publication of his first novel, A Man From the North in 1898, he became a professional writer. He moved to Paris and became a man of cosmopolitan and discerning tastes. Bennett's great reputation is built upon the success of his novels and short stories set in the Potteries, an area of north Staffordshire that he recreated as the 'Five Towns'. Anna of the Five Towns and The Old Wives' Tale show the influence of Flaubert, Maupassant and Balzac as Bennett describes provincial life in great detail. Arnold Bennett is an important link between the English novel and European realism. He wrote several plays and lighter works such as The Grand Babylon Hotel and The Card. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever? 17 Aug 2010
What makes a great novel? Surely it is something about how we engage with human nature - both our own and others'. I have never read a book like Riceyman Steps - and having been an avid reader since childhood I have read *many* books. No other novel has ever made me so emotionally engaged with the characters. I found myself literally talking out loud to the characters, trying to persuade them to change their ways; in fact, at times I was actually shouting at them. As a therapist, I know that this is not because I have 'issues' around the subject matter. Rather, it is a testament to Bennett's skill that he drew me in to this world that starts off ordinary, promises happiness, but becomes increasingly dark and distressing.

Bennett at his best is a great writer. What I appreciate is that he keeps things rooted in the ordinary. His characters are just people - like you and me and the people next door. His style is simple (in the same way, I feel, as Guy de Maupassant) and I have always thought them surprisingly modern in style. Many books from this period (late 19th - early 20th century) can feel rather turgid in their style - you have to really *want* to read them. This is not the case with Bennett, perhaps because he writes from the perspective of an ordinary person rather than striving for 'literary style'.

Some people will know Bennett from the TV series 'Clayhanger' in the 1970s, since when he seems to have been forgotten. It is high time people rediscovered him.

One of the best books ever? I don't know. All I can say is that of the thousands of books I have read few have moved me like this one.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Bennett is master of the study of miniscule, and this is no exception. An intense, shocking study of a year in the lives of Mr Earlsforward, a bookseller in Clerkenwell, and the women he marries in middle age, Mrs Arb, and their devoted charwoman, Elsie. Earlsforward is obsessively economical in life - with money, with words, with affection and certainly with commen sense. And his obsessions have a profound, shocking, and ultimately fatal, impact on those over whom he is master, sometimes - his wife and his "general". If you like Bennett, you'll love this. If you havn't read Bennett before, then this is the perfect introduction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
First, a bit of a rant. Nothing to do with the book, but a moan about the declining standards of Amazon's review system. This fine novel is marked down by two reviews complaining about the poor quality of the edition. These clearly do not apply to the House of Stratus edition to which these reviews are supposed to refer. It may have some typos, I haven't really noticed any. Personally, I regard it as an excellent edition, as with the other Stratus Bennetts, of which I have several. In fact, I consider the Stratus as technically superior, for example, to the Penguin Classics editions - largely because of poor quality printing in the latter.

Now, to the book. This award-winning novel from Bennett's later output is, in common with many of his works, profoundly tragic, comic, and - above all - compassionate and understanding all at the same time. The focus of the novel is not the increasingly bizarre bookseller who opens it, nor his soon-to-be-acquired wife, nor even the highly skilfully-developed account of their peculiar marriage. No, the "hero" is Elsie - the "stupid" and "clumsy" maid - only Elsie has the sense and wit to try and avert the inevitable tragedy of the household. Those readers thinking Bennett's characters in this, and earlier tragi-comic novels, are too extreme to be real should remember that Bennett was writing before the advent of social services, the NHS, and so on. When virtually the only control on personal behaviour is peer-group pressure (and how oppressive and ignorant that can be!), it is inevitable that phobias and psychoses could develop more or less unchecked.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing story of a bookdealer's miserliness 18 Aug 2001
I think this is the finest of Bennett's books that isn't set in the Five Towns. It's set in the Clerkenwell area of London. Mr Earlforward is an antiquarian bookseller with a shop in Riceyman Steps and is a miser. The extent of his miserliness shocks you as you read because of Bennett's accurate portrayal of such obsessiveness and its effect upon the lives of two women, his obliging, self-sacrificing charwoman Elsie and the widowed shopkeeper Mrs Arb who he marries in middle age largely because of her seemingly economical nature. The honeymoon consists of a bus ride to visit Madame Tussauds. His new wife's vacuuming of the house and shop to clear decades of accumulated dust is to him an act of betrayal as if the dust that's drawn up is part of his wealth.. This seemingly drab story is in fact very absorbing because Bennett engages us in the interestingness of human nature, its quirks and oddities, and with his careful observation of working-class life in the locality. In one of the chapters there's a marvellous description of the problems of living in an over-crowded house in a slum where 'the adult inhabitants were always unhappy save when drinking alcohol or making love..'. The novel isn't depressing. It's amazing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars riceyman steps
Its a charming Edwardian age story of believable folk of that era , bit slow as up to now, read about 40% of it, read it in bed after 4 pages I am off to sleep!. Read more
Published 3 days ago by mrregni
5.0 out of 5 stars a book not to miss
I first heard this book on radio 4 read by martin Jarvis heard it for a second time and then decided to read it for myself I have again read it not a cheerful tale to say the least... Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. COOKE
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Bennett's best
This is a classic, and it does not need the additional words Amazon require me to write to say so.
Published 7 months ago by A barrister
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep disturbing read
Don't be put off by the fact that this a story about a middle-aged second-hand book-seller. His life and experiences are uniquely beautiful even when they appear to be repellent. Read more
Published 7 months ago by aismorienne
5.0 out of 5 stars Riceyman Steps
I first read this book a couple of decades ago, I enjoyed it then and enjoyed it as much today.
It is not a book full of thrills and excitement, quite the opposite I suppose,... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Margaret Menzies
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read!
This wasn,t just a good book it was brilliant I couldnt put it down, Arnold Bennett wrote this with real insight to the lives of his characters, I love the sardonic humour always... Read more
Published 15 months ago by ipswich
5.0 out of 5 stars Bennett's attempt 'to invent a form to supersede Balzac'
Utterly engrossing tale of bookseller Mr Earlforward, who becomes taken with neighbouring shopkeeper Mrs Arb when he sees how prudent she is with money (she refuses to pay the full... Read more
Published 15 months ago by sally tarbox
5.0 out of 5 stars get into arnold bennett
not much more to add to the favourable reviews on here. except that my copy - an old PAN book has no typos and no errors of print at all. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. Anthony J. Hume
5.0 out of 5 stars Bennett's most popular novel
Joseph Conrad stayed up all night to read this novel. It grips you with the minutiae of life in 1920s Kings Cross. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Emily - London
5.0 out of 5 stars Riceyman Steps
I'm a big Arnold Bennett fan, and this book is among his best, along with the Clayhanger series and the Old Wives Tale. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Alison Cope
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