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By: (1867-1931)

Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett is a moving and insightful novel that delves into the complexities of family relationships and personal growth. The story follows the life of Edwin Clayhanger, a young man with dreams of becoming an architect, as he navigates the challenges of early adulthood in the industrial English town of Bursley.

Bennett's writing is rich and detailed, capturing the essence of the late 19th century industrial landscape with vivid imagery and well-developed characters. The dynamic between Edwin and his overbearing father, as well as his tumultuous romantic relationships, adds depth and tension to the narrative.

One of the novel's strengths is its exploration of social class and the constraints placed on individuals by their upbringing and societal expectations. Edwin's struggle to assert his independence and pursue his passions is a relatable and poignant journey that resonates with readers.

Overall, Clayhanger is a compelling and thought-provoking read that offers a nuanced examination of family dynamics, personal ambition, and the complexities of life in a rapidly changing world. Bennett's masterful storytelling and keen insights make this novel a timeless classic that continues to be relevant to contemporary readers.

Book Description:
This first of a trilogy of novels is a coming-of-age story set in the Midlands of Victorian England, following Edwin Clayhanger as he leaves school, takes over the family business, and falls in love.
The books are set in Bennett's usual setting of "the 5 Towns", a thinly-disguised version of the six towns of "the Potteries" which amalgamated (at the time of which Bennett was writing) into the borough (and later city) of Stoke-on-Trent.
In one of the earlier chapters in the book, Bennett writes that Edwin had only heard of a philosopher as 'someone who made the best of a bad job' and in some ways that is what Edwin has to do in the book - survive under a stifling layer of conduct imposed by his father, his church and the society he is part of.
(Introduction by Wikipedia, summarised by seasound11)

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