Room at the Top is a novel by John Braine, first published in the United Kingdom by Eyre The book centres on Joe's efforts to secure a future he can take pride in. In Warley, he takes lodgings with the Thompsons, a middle class couple living . Room at the Top book. Read 91 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. The ruthlessly ambitious Joe Lampton rises swiftly from the petty b. Room at the Top is his first novel and it is a remarkable one it's a long time since we heard the Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more.
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Although he wrote twelve works of fiction, Braine is chiefly remembered today for his first novel, Room at the Top (), which was also turned. Room at the Top () by John Braine is a study of post-war Britain, its class structures, and the challenges that a young generation growing up faced. Room at the Top (), the first novel by John Braine (), earned widespread critical acclaim and was a runaway bestseller in England and America.
Inevitably things become increasingly complicated, and it seems certain that Joe is heading for heartache one way or another. The novel is set in a period when class boundaries were clearly defined and social mobility was difficult. In a time when the effects of World War II were still evident, it's hardly surprising that the luxuries afforded the wealthy were coveted, and spawned a generation of Angry Young Men of which Joe was certainly a part who lashed out at a world stacked against them.
However, though his great thirst for a better life drives Joe forwards and allows him to break into the insular society at the top it is at a significant cost to himself. Room at the Top is one of the best known examples of social realism in literature, a style that flourished in Britain in the s.
The picture of Dufton, Joe's hometown, as a stale and stagnant place, whose inhabitants go mindlessly about their business with no thought of a better life is well done, and it's clear that Joe, even though he moves away from Dufton, has its effects ingrained in his character.
Braine's writing is functional but nothing more; he describes Joe's world well but without poetry, perhaps a style that suits its subject. The overriding theme of the book is that Joe Lampton wants it all, and this comes across right from the start. The novel is narrated in the first person, and before we've got to the bottom of the first page we are told that he is reflecting on the past: But I looked well enough that morning ten years ago Arriving in Warley in the morning, he is met by Mrs Thompson, with whom he had arranged lodgings before starting his new job, and after unpacking he takes a walk around town, where he notices a young couple coming out of a solicitor's office and getting into an Aston-Martin.
He muses on the couple for some time, before concluding, in one of the novel's most iconic moments: For a moment I hated him. I saw myself, compared with him, as the Town Hall clerk, the subordinate pen-pusher, half-way to being a zombie, and I tasted the sourness of envy. Then I rejected it. Not on moral grounds; but because I felt then, and still do, that envy's a small and squalid vice - the convict sulking because a fellow-prisoner's been given a bigger helping of skilly.
This didn't abate the fierceness of my longing.
Room at the Top
I wanted an Aston-Martin, I wanted a three-guinea linen shirt, I wanted a girl with a Riviera suntan - these were my rights , I felt, a signed and sealed legacy I made my choice then and there: I was going to enjoy all the luxuries which that young man enjoyed.
I was going to collect that legacy.
This is transcribed directly onto screen in this short scene: Joe seems to think entirely in terms of what we would now call branding; in this section, where he looks down on Warley with Susan, he describes the town almost solely in terms of the products produced there: I raised myself on my elbow and looked down at Warley in the valley below. I could see it all: And if I married Alice I'd be forced to leave it.
Braine wrote it in the early s, and it was published in , so the line quoted above referring to 10 years ago places it back in ; at one point though Joe rather helpfully goes over his CV, and says that he was born in January , and at another point in the book after Christmas, at the start of Chapter 11 he tells Alice that he is 25, which would place this scene in early The film is much more vague, although in one shot Joe receives a letter asking him to come to Dufton or Dufdon, as it is in the letter about a job, and the letter is clearly dated 08 May The book has much more of the flavour of the post-war period - rationing is mentioned, and Joe reflects on the bombing that killed his parents, and so forth - but one charcter is retained from the book, albeit in a rather different guise, who highlights this aspect: Jack Wales.
He notices, shortly after arriving, a young man with an expensive car and a pretty girl friend and he realises that this lifestyle and appearance is what he aspires to.
The book centres on Joe's efforts to secure a future he can take pride in. In Warley, he takes lodgings with the Thompsons, a middle class couple living in the better part of town, known locally as "T'top".
Lampton is delighted to find himself already socially advantaged by taking, quite literally, a "Room at the top", and this serves as a metaphor for his ambition to better himself and to leave behind any vestige of his former life and acquaintances, many of whom he characterises as "zombies", lacking any trace of genuine life and character.
Everything about Warley is an improvement on his former life in Dufton.
The Thompsons introduce him to the local amateur dramatic society , which is in need of new faces, and there he meets Susan Brown, the only daughter of a very successful local businessman. He also meets the apparently cold and standoffish Alice Aisgill, who plays many of the leading lady parts.
Review: Room at the Top by John Braine
Alice and Joe are drawn together through intelligent conversation, and their relationship soon becomes a highly rewarding sexual one, in spite of what Alice perceives to be a significant age difference. Although supposedly betrothed to Jack Wales, the dashing scion of a wealthy local family, the naive and childish Susan allows Joe to woo her; meanwhile, Joe and Alice develop their relationship through clandestine sex in a borrowed apartment.
Joe has a way with words, and convinces Alice of his affections for her — consolidating this during a stolen few days away in a country cottage, during which Alice declares her undying commitment to Lampton; in the meantime, Joe's silver tongue and persistence also enable him to seduce Susan, who becomes pregnant.Then again, it's a novel.
However, this really is an interesting portrait of an era and of the novels which showed that anger with an order, and a world, which was soon to change. Community Reviews. Everything about Warley is an improvement on his former life in Dufton.
I was going to collect that legacy. The central character, Joe Lampton, is a young man from a modest background.
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