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Room at the Top [Hardcover]

John Braine
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 1980

The Angry Young Men movement, featuring such stars as Kingsley Amis, is perfectly illustrated through the iconic figure of Joe Lampton.

The ruthlessly ambitious Joe Lampton rises swiftly from the petty bureaucracy of local government into the unfamiliar world of inherited wealth, fast cars and glamorous women.

But the price of success is high, and betrayal and tragedy strike as Joe pursues his goals.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Routledge Kegan & Paul (Mar 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0416006116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0416006018
  • ASIN: 0416006019
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 712,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Braine - Room at the Top 27 Feb 2010
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Tour De Force 9 Feb 2010
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex, class and post-war Britain 30 Aug 2009
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crucial 1950's novel 13 Oct 2008
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Room At The top by John Braine 15 Nov 2009
"Room At The Top" was a seminal book of the 1950s, fitting into the Angry Young Man theme running through parts of British literature at the time. The story of Joe Lampton, determined to elbow his way out of the position in society the rigidity of that society had placed him, is almost a continuous shout of anguish. For younger readers, two questions are these : Does it feel too dated now to resonate ? And does its treatment of women characters ring true? Perhaps it might be useful to compare it with the book "1954: A Crime Novel" (published in 2009). On the face of it, this might sound odd. But both authors, John Braine ("Room At The Top") and Nick Garnett ("1954") were born in Bradford. Both books are set in the same part of Yorkshire. And they both have a backdrop of the local textile industry and the magnates who owned the mills. Garnett seems aware of this. A character called Lampton makes a brief appearance in "1954". Putting aside the obvious fact that the books are about very different stories, "1954: A Crime Novel" has a female hero, wool baron's wife Jennifer Shaw, to share centre stage with Detective Inspector Ray Stafford. In Braine's story of Joe Lampton, the women, like Alice, take very much secondary roles and I'm not convinced the author draws them very well. In "1954: A Crime Novel", Garnett weaves into the story, the emergence of immigration from south Asia which in many Yorkshire towns was linked to employment practices in the kind of mills owned by the Carstairs family ("Room At The Top") and the Shaws ("1954"). All this is absent in "Room At The Top". This might be seen as an unfair point as Braine started writing his book in the 1940s and "Room At The Top" seems more rooted there than in the 1950s. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A BEACON FROM MY OWN PAST.
In 1957 as ROOM AT THE TOP was published, I was a 17 year old sixth former studying A level English Literature in a small town which mirrored the setting of the book in the West... Read more
Published 6 months ago by john adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Room At The Top Book
I really enjoyed the TV series of Room At The Top so it made me purchase the book. Good price.
Published 16 months ago by Admin
5.0 out of 5 stars Standing the test of time
Bought for my son (in his 20's) and he really enjoyed it. He now wants to read more 60's lit.
Published 17 months ago by Mrs. P. Wales
3.0 out of 5 stars Book Club reading
This book was an easy read. Having seen the film many years ago I enjoyed reading the book. Although a long time ago one couldrelate to the way the Britain rleted to the working... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jane Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Room at the Top
I bought this for my son as he is studying it at Uni but we have passed it around the family and all from 21 to 80 enjoyed it. A true view into our social history.
Published 22 months ago by Dorothy Rogerson
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of class iniquity
Expertly read and brought to life by Paul McGann, this fifties classic has not dated, and its message of the immorality of an iniquitous, opportunity denying class system remains... Read more
Published 23 months ago by J. W. Platt
3.0 out of 5 stars Explores what it takes to achieve one's goals, and what this costs to...
I enjoyed Room at the Top and thought it was an interesting look at post-War Britain, it's class structure and the challenges faced by those who wish to climb the class-ladder. Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by aus_books
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading
I don't know what prompted to pick up a 50s novel but I'm so glad I did. The story of Joe Lampton working his way through the class system, and its women, is told with such... Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2010 by P. C. Langman
5.0 out of 5 stars This booked changed my life
This is the first proper book I read outside of school(1977) (Alistair Maclean had been my staple until then). Read more
Published on 24 Jun 2010 by Mr. Neil Thorneycroft
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