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Room at the Top Hardcover – Mar 1980

21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Routledge Kegan & Paul (Mar. 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0416006116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0416006117
  • ASIN: 0416006019
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,315,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A harsh, accurate, powerful piece of story-telling" (Tribune)

"Remarkable. . . Room at the Top communicates so successfully the mingled bitterness and bravery of youth" (Sunday Times)

"He has real talent" (C.P. Snow)

"This novel is brilliant...The observation is shrewd and the emotion and the comedy are so true it hurts." (Daily Express) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The bestselling story of Joe Lampton, the original 'angry young man'. A cult novel depicting 1950s Yorkshire, Room at the Top was adapted into an Academy Award winning film in 1959. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. H. Westhead on 30 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
First let me say that this book is worth every minute spent reading it. It's a short novel written in an easy to read style and throws you right into the plot from page one - class and ambition.

I was born and brought up in a town much like Dufton, the depressed and depressing northern town that the anti-hero Joe Lampton is trying to escape from, so the novel strikes a cord straight away. Joe and his friend call the various town hall functionaries in Dufton 'zombies' - moving but not really alive. As the story develops you realize that for all Joe's desire to escape from Dufton to the middle-class valhalla of Warley (or its like) he has really only move geographically, but he still very much a product of his class and his birthplace.

Joe Lampton has three driving forces in his life: ambition, class consciousness and a liking of women. These all play an important part in the story and weave together to drive Joe up the social ladder but also towards heartbreak.

Much of the story revolves around his affair with Alice Aisgill, an older women who is an independent spirit - within the society of the time she acted with the independence of a man and wasn't afraid to make it clear that she wasn't anyone's chattel (though her freedom depended on the loveless marriage to a rich man). Joe is torn between Alice and Susan Brown. Susan is only 19. and the pampered virgin daughter of a rich and worldly-wise businessman. Joe falls for her at first sight (before he knows that association with her could help him up the greasy pole, or prevent it forever). Susan is rather childish and shallow, and the perfect catch for Joe's working class view of man and woman, but Alice is more than his equal.

Some of the glimpses of post-war Britain (e.g.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a fantastic portrait of a time, of a class-system, and of a character. I enjoyed it tremendously. It's examination of class and power (sexual, monetary, etc) is fascinating. Braine isn't the most fantastic stylist ever, but that's not really the point. This is a great read that shines a very perceptive light on the life of an ambitious, cad-ish man in the 50s, and the class system that surrounds him and represses/opresses/supresses him, or tries to. It has a tragic, heartbreaking end, too. I really recommend this.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By R. H. M. Simmons on 9 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
I saw the film Room At The Top many years ago and recently read the book for the first time. I found it an extraordinarily good reading experience set in 1940s post war England. Joe Lampton moves from a small Yorkshire town to a larger east Midlands town to broaden his horizons and improve his lot. The author captures the nuances of the class system and the politics of local government interwoven with the conflict of his bitter sweet love affairs. I found every single page a delight of writing craftsmanship, the book is a real tour de force of its genre.
Thoroughly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Shankland on 13 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
This 1957 bestseller captures the very significant shift from Post War austerity to late 1950's economic growth perfectly, neatly depicting the economic and social opportunities that were now open to an ex-Service man such as Joe Lampton from a Northern Working Class background . The novel is an important piece of social realism. Unashamedly provincial settings. Extra-marital infidelity is openly described; Joe Lampton as a hero gets his fair share of sexual intercourse, boozing and a fist fight or two.

Joe Lampton is a great lead character. Robust, blunt speaking, masculine, ambitious living his life on his own terms until eventually conforming, he is also sensitive and compassionate.

The women Joe must choose between, Susan whose presented as being the innocent Daddy's Little Girl, and Alice, the worldly older married woman, at first seem like some sort of virgin and whore caricature. In fact the female lead characters are developed well as the novel progresses, and begin to become more complex and interesting than one first assumes.

The climax of the novel is superb. Joe Lampton has achieved what he wanted, but pays a tragic price
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A. Reynolds on 11 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Despite being post-war, Braine's story of Joe Lampton (an ambitious young man in a milieu that despised ambition) could well have been set in any time between 1900 and 1930. It positively reeks of such strictures as 'knowing your place' and 'who do you think you are'. Although these may have been praiseworthy virtues in other novels of the time (Nevil Shute springs to mind), they are the slippery pole that Joe Lampton must climb to achive any measure of success.
The saddest part of Lampton's hubris, however, is his internalised struggle that opines his ambition as a shameful thing - struggling against the conditioning of childhood. We are also given glimpses of how others (mainly middle-class) view young Joe and his faux-pas - all of it grist to the Lampton mill.
Eventually, Joe is given the opportunity to climb and make-good by dint of some underhandedness and a plain-speaking father-in-law to-be recognising that Joe's rise mirrors his own. Thus, the stage is set for Braine's sequel (the ultimately unsatisfying 'Life At The Top') and the continuation of the story of a big-ish fish in a small pool.
As an historical anomaly in the roll-call of those 1950's English works that are worth re-reading, 'Room At The Top' must take its rightful place.
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