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Riceyman Steps (Unabridged) [Kindle Edition]

Arnold Bennett
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This carefully crafted ebook: "Riceyman Steps (Unabridged)" is formatted for your eReader with a functional and detailed table of contents.

Riceyman Steps is a novel by British novelist Arnold Bennett, first published in 1923 and winner of that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.

The story takes place in 1919-1920 and deals with the final year in the life of its main character, Henry Earlforward, a miser, who keeps a second-hand bookshop in the Clerkenwell area of London. Henry marries Violet Arb, a widow who keeps a neighbouring shop, and who sees in Henry a financially secure future. Henry's parsimony drives them into an increasingly wretched existence. Their lives are contrasted to that of their maid servant Elsie Sprickett and it is she, despite her extreme poverty, who brings life and a future to the bittersweet tale.

Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was an English journalist, novelist, and writer. After working as a rent collector and solicitor's clerk, Bennett won a writing contest which convinced him to become a journalist. He later turned to the writing of novels, including his most famous Clayhanger and Anna of the five towns.

Product Description


Bennett writes magnificently of the little movements of the spirit in its daily routine --Margaret Drabble


Unpacking her trunk, she moved about, walked, stooped, knelt, rose, opened drawers, shut drawers, with the magnificent movements of a richly developed and powerful body. The expression on her mild face and in her dark-blue eyes, denoted a sweet, unconscious resignation. No egotism in those features! No instinct to fight for her rights and to get all she could out of the universe! No apprehension of injustice! No resentment against injustice! No glimmer of realization that she was the salt of the earth!

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 717 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Publisher: e-artnow ebooks (20 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EV40HUE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,283 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books ever? 17 Aug. 2010
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
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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11 of 11 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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21 of 22 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bennett's most popular novel 4 Aug. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Joseph Conrad stayed up all night to read this novel. It grips you with the minutiae of life in 1920s Kings Cross. The book's horrors creep up on you from underneath the veneer of routine, and only occasionally the veneer is swept away, and you are shown Mr and Mrs Earlforward through the eyes of one who suddenly come upon them - the appalled eyes of the doctor.

This was Arnold Bennett's most popular novel - late in his career - the one that sold the best. He complained that Elsie the servant girl heroine had stolen the scene:"I am suddenly the darling of the public - not because of the excellence of Riceyman Steps, but because the heroine thereof is a sympathetic, good, reliable, unselfish and chaste character. She is a domestique and all London, and all New York is wishing that it could find devoted servants like her. `Psychologie des foules'!

Those responsible for the Penguin introduction argue that this is really a modernist novel, presenting the stream of life as it is lived. As Bennett says `A man crosses a road to marry a woman'. He shows rather than tells his characters, presenting their inner lives from their perspectives - even if Virginia Woolf disagreed and thought Bennett was simply `looking out of the window'. It is really a symbolist novel too - where the collapse of the underground system when being built, mirrors the collapse of Mrs Earlforward's inner gynaecological workings, and the cancer that eats away at Mr Earlforward's oesophagus.

It develops Bennett's early interest in misers - see one of the key characters in Old Wives' Tale - but goes further now he has learned more about the unconscious and neurosis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Not Bennett at his best but that still leaves him a ling way above most of his contemporaries.
Published 9 days ago by Vincent Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Riceyman Steps
Arnold Bennett at his best.
Published 1 month ago by P Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I have just discovered Arnold Bennett. I read Old Wives Tales recently and started on this. He paints very clear pictures in your mind of the characters he writes about. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ann Millward
5.0 out of 5 stars Love in a miser's world
One of the greatest books by Arnold Bennett. Harrowing yet funny. The absurdity of being a miser in the hard world of London
after 1918. Two contrasting love stories. Read more
Published 2 months ago by eileen norris
5.0 out of 5 stars ... as I live at Riceyman Steps as a child great
wanted this book for ages - as I live at Riceyman Steps as a child great shory
Published 2 months ago by theljam
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult read
Good storyline, poor transcription to e book, too many errors, obviously not properly proofed before issued. Spoiled the enjoyment of reading.
Published 4 months ago by pete wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
An excellent tale capturing all the detail of the very few characters.
A real skill to keep from descending into the trite or moralizing.
Published 7 months ago by Max Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
beautiful prose keeps you in a time and place it is difficult to comprehend but is totally compelling a delight
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, detailed and subtle writing by a writer who ...
Wonderful, detailed and subtle writing by a writer who seems to have been forgotten. Very apt descriptions and great characterisation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by A. W. Roy
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking
A love story that even I could read, rounded characters and attention to small detail made this a very pleasant read
Published 10 months ago by M peake
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