Room At The Top



☉ [PDF / Epub] ☆ Room At The Top By John Braine ❤ – E17streets4all.co.uk I was the devil of a fellow, I was the lover of a married woman, I was taking out the daughter of one of the richest man in Warley, there wasn t a damn thing I couldn t do Ruthlessly ambitious, Joe La I was the devil of a fellow, I was the lover of a married woman, I was taking out the daughter of one of the richest man in Warley, there wasn t a damn thing I couldn t do Ruthlessly ambitious, Joe Lampton Room At eBook õ 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 his success is high Betrayal and tragedy strike as the original angry young man of the s pursues his goals.Room At The Top

John Gerard Braine was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in He sprang to immediate fame in with publication of his first novel, Room at the Top, which was a critical success and a major bestseller in England and America and was adapted Room At eBook õ for the screen in an Oscar winning film starring Simone Signoret and Laurence Harvey His second novel, The Vodi , met with mixed reviews and a disappointing reception, but was Braine s favourite of his own works His next book, Life at the Top , a sequel to Room at the Top, sold well and was filmed in Braine, who was commonly associated with what the British media dubbed the Angry Young Men movement of working class writers disenchanted with the traditional British class system, continued writing until his death in , though as of , all his works were out of print Recently, there has been renewed interest in Braine s work, with Valancourt Books reissues of Room at the Top and The Vodi, and a BBC miniseries adaptation of Room at the Top.

Room At The Top Epub ´ Room At  eBook õ
  • Paperback
  • 235 pages
  • Room At The Top
  • John Braine
  • English
  • 10 December 2018
  • 014001361X

10 thoughts on “Room At The Top

  1. says:

    This novel has astoundingly bad dialogue in it, all the way through to the bitter end, but it s still a tough piece of British truth telling It s about two things class, and the possibilities of moving from the working class to the middle class there s a careful, excruciating listing of all the foodstuffs, clothing , drinks, modes of transport and social habits of each of the two classes we learn, for instance, about the remarkable frequency and toleration of drunk driving in those days This novel has astoundingly bad dialogue in it, all the way through to the bitter end, but it s still a tough piece of British truth telling It s about two things class, and the possibilities of moving from the working class to the middle class there s a careful, excruciating listing of all the foodstuffs, clothing , drinks, modes of transport and social habits of each of the two classes we learn, for instance, about the remarkable frequency and toleration of drunk driving in those days how there was anyone left alive is a wonder and sex, how men and women negotiate to get what they want, or often, what they can bear to put up with how they shuffle the cards they ve been dealt And it s another indictment of the selfish male, which God knows, has been anatomized and filleted many times But it s also the joy of sex 1955 style, with some nude bathing in the sea, and at least one knee trembler And it s about the cruelty of sex, how the young are immutablyattractive than the middle aged which in this novel is anyone over 34 In this novel men are men and the women expect to be knocked about a bit As for instance I took hold of her roughly, then slapped her hard on the face She gave a little cry of surprise, then flew at me with her nails I held her off easily You re not going, I said, and I m not going to do what you asked me either I love you, you silly bitch, and I m the one who says what s to be done Now and in the future Then there s some sex, followed byYou hurt me, she said when I came to my sense afterwards, my whole body empty and exhausted You hurt me and you took all my clothes look, I m bleeding here and here and here Oh Joe, I love you with all of me now, every little bit of me is yours You won t need herany, will you She laughed It was a low gurgling laugh It was full of physical contentment Hmmm, I see now that I ve just demonstrated that this novel is TERRIBLE I mean to say, there s your bad dialogue But er, it s pretty good really I mean, he s not proud of himself about any of this stuff He just knows that s the way you have to do it It s not his world, he didn t invent the rules The blurbs will have you believe that our hero Joe Lampton is ruthlessly ambitious, destroying anyone in his path Not at all, he s the most agonized, doubting, hesitantly ruthless young man you ever did meet And the doubting and remorse is the best part of the book, and John Braine knew that was the point of it There s a Dark Night of the Soul section right at the end which is a real phantasmagoria.I m chomping my way through a lot of novels I should have read years ago, and this was one of them, and at the end of it I thought hmmph, I should have read this years ago So I said to myself told you so But you wouldn t listen would you And I said okay okay, you made your point 3.5 stars and a sticker saying Warning Contains scenes some feminists may find disturbing

  2. says:

    Joe Lampton was orphaned when a bomb killed his parents as they slept His Aunt and Uncle raise him dutifully but his goal is escape and betterment The Top Money Good Marriage Great House Great Sex Not all necessarily from the same source, of course, but it would be nice to combine a few So he makes his move by physically transporting himself to a new town, new job, and the tale begins.Braine s prose drew me in from the start He has a way of making Joe intriguing even when his motives an Joe Lampton was orphaned when a bomb killed his parents as they slept His Aunt and Uncle raise him dutifully but his goal is escape and betterment The Top Money Good Marriage Great House Great Sex Not all necessarily from the same source, of course, but it would be nice to combine a few So he makes his move by physically transporting himself to a new town, new job, and the tale begins.Braine s prose drew me in from the start He has a way of making Joe intriguing even when his motives and actions can be suspect Joe is the narrator throughout and we see his evolution devolution up close For all that, it gave me farpleasure than the dressing gown I have now, which was bought from Sulka s in Bond Street Not that I don t like the Sulka it s the best, and I always wear the best But sometimes I feel uncomfortably aware that I m forced to be a living proof of the firm s prosperity, a sort of sandwich board man I ve no desire to be ill dressed but I hate the knowledge that I daren t be ill dressed if I want to I bought the cheap rayon garment to please myself I bought the expensive silk garment because always to wear clothes of that quality is an unwritten term of my contract And I shall never be able to recapture that sensation of leisure and opulence and sophistication which came over me that first afternoon in Warley when I took off my jacket and collar and went into the bathroom wearing a real dressing gown. p 9 Joe looks back and forth in his life and slowly reveals something I hadn t expected insight into himself But this does not seem to change his trajectory He is a man who remains aimed at the Top and set to whatever steps he must take.In our group discussion, one subject that rose frequently and vehemently was the treatment of women in the book Is this Joe s attitude toward women Is it the author s attitude Does it also reflect to some degree a tone acceptable at the time this book was written 1957 and or set 1952 Personally, I think it s some of all of the above I also found this novel historically interesting because of the situation in Britain in the early 1950s, still very early in their post war recovery.All in all, I do recommend this book for it s excellent writing, interesting historical and sociological settings

  3. says:

    Published in 1957, this debut novel is an example of the Angry Young Men fiction of the 1950 s and 1960 s These novels generally involve themes of class, resentment and anger and the main character in this novel, Joe Lampton, personifies all these feelings Lampton comes from the Northern mill town of Dufton His parents were killed in air raid, leaving him to be brought up by an aunt When we meet him, he has returned from the war, he is twenty five, and is about to leave the confines of his Published in 1957, this debut novel is an example of the Angry Young Men fiction of the 1950 s and 1960 s These novels generally involve themes of class, resentment and anger and the main character in this novel, Joe Lampton, personifies all these feelings Lampton comes from the Northern mill town of Dufton His parents were killed in air raid, leaving him to be brought up by an aunt When we meet him, he has returned from the war, he is twenty five, and is about to leave the confines of his earlier life for a new job in Warley The job is obviously a step up and Joe is all for a step up and a step away In fact, he is ruthlessly ambitious, desperate to leave his previous drab surroundings and the poverty of his youth Once in Warley, Joe lodges with Cedric and Joan Thompson, who live in a nice area the t top, of the title Once installed in his nice room, with the dressing gown his aunt called, a waste of money, Joe sets out to make his mark on Warley We see him as he embarks on his attempts to improve his lot joining the local amateur dramatic society, tackling his new job and finding how far he can go Before long, Joe is seriously involved with two women the married, older woman, Alice and the young, beautiful and innocent, Susan, whose father is wealthy and influential The fact that Susan is out of his league makes her all thealluring the forbidden fruit that is beyond his dreams.However, it is obvious that Joe is both handsome and intelligent He is successful at work and with women, making him dangerous and, before long, coming to the attention of his betters This novel perfectly encapsulates that narrow minded, drab and dreary, post war England The sight of a huge spread of food, laid out at a party, is still astonishing to Joe, who is used to making do and mending , rather than excess of any kind Everything is limited ambition, hope, dreams and everyone is expected to keep in their place Yes, many of the views, and behaviours, expressed in this book really jar now, especially the casual words of sexism and violence 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 A very interesting read and a novel I have meant to read for a long time

  4. says:

    A gritty, cynical and credible book.Room at the Top 1957 by John Braine still packs a heck of a punch I d wanted to read Room at the Top for a long time having watched the memorable 1959 film adaptation with Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret s Oscar winning performance The film adaptation has stayed with me since I viewed it in the early 1980s, so I was gratified to discover that the book is every bit as good as I d hoped Room at the Top is one of the best known examples of social realism A gritty, cynical and credible book.Room at the Top 1957 by John Braine still packs a heck of a punch I d wanted to read Room at the Top for a long time having watched the memorable 1959 film adaptation with Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret s Oscar winning performance The film adaptation has stayed with me since I viewed it in the early 1980s, so I was gratified to discover that the book is every bit as good as I d hoped Room at the Top is one of the best known examples of social realism, a literary style that flourished in Britain in the 1950s The powerful picture of Dufton in Yorkshire protagonist Joe Lampton s hometown is of a stale and stagnant place, whose inhabitants go mindlessly about their business Recently demobbed, Joe escapes to theprosperous and affluent nearby Warley, where he hopes to reinvent himself.Room at the Top is set in the immediate post World War 2 period when class boundaries were clearly defined and social mobility was difficult In a time when the effects of World War 2 were still evident, it s hardly surprising that the luxuries afforded the wealthy were coveted This spawned a generation of so called Angry Young Men who resented how the world was stacked against them For Joe Lampton, this dissatisfaction manifests itself as single minded ambition Joe is acutely aware of every subtle income distinction and obsesses about it He carefully notes which type of house is in which part of town and what the size and style signify GoodReads friend Peter reminded me that the novel was written during the era of U and non U popularised by Nancy Mitford in 1954 whichunleashed an anxious national debate about English class consciousness .Room at the Top has a very compelling narrative, however what elevates this book to classic status, is that this page turner of a story is aligned to a pitch perfect evocation of life in a provincial Yorkshire town, in the late 1940s This era, characterised by rapidly altering morals and shifting class boundaries, is superbly captured in a novel that still retains its power and ability to shock Needless to say, Joe s attitude to women is unreconstructed and probably reflects what was commonplace or acceptable at the time Room at the Top was written 1957 and set 1946 It s instructive to reflect that this was a book by one of theAngry Young Menrather than one of theAngry Young People .One of the most interesting aspects of the novel is how the anger of angry young man John Braine, whilst aimed at the unfairness of wealth inequality, doesn t seek to tear it down, or replace it This is no Marxist tract Joe doesn t want to beat them, he wants to join them So what we get, in a powerful first person narrative, is Joe s predatory materialism delivered in a brazenly cynical narrative He s a proto Thacherite.The tragedy at the book s heart results in the completion of Joe s metamorphosis In the final pages Joe talks about Joe Lampton in the third person, which is a powerful technique .I hated Joe Lampton, but he looked and sounded very sure of himself sitting at my desk in my skin he d come to stay, this was no flying visit If, like me, you ve been meaning to read this book for years, then delay no , it s a classic If you re interested in social trends, and post war fiction, then read it Actually, just read it 5 5John Minton s cover art from the first edition was restored and used on the new edition by Valancourt Books in 2013.A Penguin edition published to tie in with the 1959 film adaptation

  5. says:

    This good old 1957 nostalgic winter s night read had me gripped from start to finish John Braine s gritty post war British characters are astonishingly true, their strengths believable, their defects authentic, their dialogue the real McCoy.After studying accountancy as a Prisoner of War, ex serviceman Joe Lampton leaves his northern English hometown of Dufton, where he grew up a poor orphan after his parents were killed in an air raid Chasing a new life, Joe arrives in nearby Warley to comm This good old 1957 nostalgic winter s night read had me gripped from start to finish John Braine s gritty post war British characters are astonishingly true, their strengths believable, their defects authentic, their dialogue the real McCoy.After studying accountancy as a Prisoner of War, ex serviceman Joe Lampton leaves his northern English hometown of Dufton, where he grew up a poor orphan after his parents were killed in an air raid Chasing a new life, Joe arrives in nearby Warley to commence his promising new job at the Municipal Treasury Ambitious to break the archetypal working class mould, Joe runs with the fast changing times and sets his sights high, driven by visions of white collar advancement.He rents a room from the middle class Thompson s, a couple in Warley s well to do quarter The Top T top, in native dialectic terms Joe Lampton s room at the top is a metaphor for his drive to leave behind the blue collar zombies of his old life and native town.The kindly Thompsons, deprived of a son who died at war, take Joe under their wing and treat him like family They introduce him to their amateur dramatic society where, at weekly evening rehearsals, he befriends childlike Susan Brown, the sole daughter of an influential Warley businessman Though betrothed to flash Jack Wales, heir to a local family fortune, Susan also quietly succumbs to Joe s pushy wooing She remains na ve of his motive being partly frivolous opportunism, in his ruthless quest for social elevation, and partly blokey one upmanship against the self important Jack Wales.At these same weekly rehearsals, Joe also becomes acquainted with the older, married Alice Aisgill, who usually gets the company s leading lady roles Though she initially plays the ice queen, Alice and Joe soon find mutual stimulation in intelligent conversation, away from the others, after rehearsals, in the nearby pub They begin a covert sexual relationship, enacted mostly in the borrowed flat of one of Alice s actress girlfriends One secret weekend, at a country cottage, smooth talking Joe convinces Alice this isthan physical She is won over.Though Joe does love Alicepassionately, he has also, meanwhile, successfully seduced the wide eyed and willing young Susan Brown, who falls pregnant As rumour erupts of Joe s adulterous affair with Alice, his reputation is compromised, threatening his prospects in Warley His only option of keeping Alice would be elopement with her, away from her husband and Warley, leaving behind Susan and his career opportunities Meanwhile with scandal looming, Susan s father, concerned for his family reputation, summonses Joe to a private business meeting He presses Joe do the decent thing by marrying the pregnant Susan, adding, for incentive, a job offer worth a thousand a pounds year The one stipulation is that Joe sever all ties with Alice Aisgill.Forced to choose between love and money, Joe must sacrifice one relationship to retain the other The outcome for the devastated woman he doesn t choose is tragic Guilt ridden and remorseful, Joe turns to drink in a rage of self loathing Room At The Top s hero intermittently morphs into anti hero throughout, via the twists and turns of his wrestling conscience and ego Empathising with him, we also recognise his shortcomings too His older lover, Alice Aisgill, is entrancing, enigmatic and breathtakingly believable She was immortalised on the big screen by the wonderful Simon Signoret, whose smouldering portrayal earned her an Academy Ward 1959 , then again on the small screen by the fabulous Maxine Peake 2012 , that miniseries winning a BAFTA In the same period bundle as Stan Barstow s A Kind Of Loving and Nell Dunn sUp The Junction both similarly cinematised , this was a genre that gained swift popularity then achieved a sort of cult status as it just as rapidly dated The post war era, one of rapidly altering morals and class boundaries, is superbly captured in these then controversial novels This is one of the best.No great classic, in my opinion, but a broody, meaty read with a granite edge that leaves an indelible impression.Quite unforgettable

  6. says:

    Verdict A morality tale for the modern age chock full of insight so unflinching that even after half a century it will still make you flinch I don t quite know what to say about Room at the Top except that I can see how it might grate with even the most casual of contemporary feminist For my part I can t agree Not because I hate women, but because I feel this view rather misses the forest for the trees More on that later, though First, a brief overview I can t imagine I ll have a huge p Verdict A morality tale for the modern age chock full of insight so unflinching that even after half a century it will still make you flinch I don t quite know what to say about Room at the Top except that I can see how it might grate with even the most casual of contemporary feminist For my part I can t agree Not because I hate women, but because I feel this view rather misses the forest for the trees More on that later, though First, a brief overview I can t imagine I ll have a huge pool of fellow readers with this one, though the Brits among you might recall recent a BBC mini I found my copy in an especially eccentric pop up used book booth and it scored low on the recognition test with the nosy parade of museum public to whom I act as receptionist by day crime fighter by night, naturally Room at the Top tells the story of Joe Lampton, an ambitious Geordie, and his post war efforts to make something of himself in the brave new capitalist world When the book begins he has left his hideous hometown of dreary Dufton on account of its afore mentioned hideousness and the fact that his house with parents en situ was levelled by a doodlebug, and moved to fancy pants Warley where he has found work as an accountant He soon espies a fancy man with a fancy car and a fancy girl and decides that, lower middle class background or not, one day all this will be his.He starts with the fancy girl cause he spots her first in a local theatre production Her name is Susan She is pretty, he Daddy is rich and she has almost certainly never seen a penis She is perfect Joe joins her society theatre troop where he also meets Alice She is older and rather snippy but quite fit and, as a semi unhappily married woman, has almost certainly seen a penis More astonishingly, Joe finds himself holding actual conversations with her instead of smacking her ass or scheming around her like she was the Kohinoor which is new and confusing for him, god bless.But back to Susan, her toff boyfriend goes back to Oxbridge and Joe can move in which he does with speed and agility, revealing himself as an early prophet of The Game there s no point in blaming modern times, ladies, this bs had been around for a while Susan falls for it but is still reluctant to break her life long cock embargo so Joe and Alice start up an affair Spoilers seep in here and flood quicklyTheirs isproper relationship with emotional investment and a smidgen of personal growth but in the end Joe needs Susan to be the fancy woman standing next to his fancy car so he Super Negs hers and manages to get her pregnant Her Dad honest to goodness offers him money to leave forever but he declines which is good because it was all a test Instead he offers Joe his blighted daughter in marriage and fancy job with his company Alice takes this badly and kills herself gruesomely with her 1940 s automobile I m not kidding, it was bad I ve read Madame Bovary and I d still have opted for arsenic Joe is distraught, goes out, gets pissed in the UK sense and shags a stranger but then goes on to get married and become a captain of industry, eventually penning this memoir, the end.Spoilers have endedOn the surface I can see how this presents as a mean novel with a bad moral but I ve decided I quite like it True, while reading I wasn t quite sure what to make of it Some bits certainly stuck in my throat, but I still found it fascinating Simply put, Room at the Top is a Bizarro version of the American Dream an evil How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying This makes it unique but also honest Joe, though empirically horrible, never ceases to be sympathetic and this can only be down to his own brutally unfiltered account of his actions He s ambitious and there s not supposed to be anything wrong with that but the results of his actions speak differently and his confusion at this is sincere He may escape with only the positive consequences of his actions but this isn t a victory so much as a lack of epiphany.It also opens up his experience to speak of this new post war modern world at large The class system is breaking apart Grocers and mill owners are now the ones building houses and throwing balls Disposable income is there for the taking and just because your father worked in the mines doesn t mean you can t eventually make it into the House of Commons Joe is a good kid He loves his parents He s hilarious with his Dufton buddy He earned his accountancy certificate studying as a POW I don t mean to absolve him of all personal blame here, but there is definitely an aspect of nature twisted by the new nurture As I ve said before, it s this through the looking glass perspective of the heroic trope of self made mad that I find so interesting That and the attitude towards ladies.To simply find the mad men mentality towards the fairer sex insulting would be to overlook the rare jewel offered by this prose an honest assessment of the effect of female beauty Culturally, we are saturated with female beauty In a world where even the women flogging us Rivita and toilet paper not simultaneously are skin glowingly perfect it s easy to accept beauty as the inalienable right of any woman upon whom we are expected to gaze Hollywood may lead the way in this today but books were there first I m happy to forgive most instances princesses in fairy tales and the like but in truth, in reality, beauty in a woman is a rare and mind altering thing and not the bog standard minimum for anyone daring to be loved Room at the Top , quite refreshingly, acknowledges this Throughout the book Joe rates the ladies of his acquaintance on a charming scale of 1 10 It may sound crass but there is a truth in this that does us no favours to ignore namely female beauty can be and will be commoditized into a status symbol Joe assesses Susan s beauty with the same quantitative admiration that he would bestow on a Rolex Submariner and wants her for precisely the same reasons She is the most beautiful girl in town and I m just going to let Gaston take it from here That makes her the best And don t I deserve the best So there you go, we ve also now revealed hither to unknown wisdom in Beauty and the Beast This book may be a product of its time in places The ass pinched secretary may be a thing of the past thanks to sexual harassment lawsuits but there is no escaping the beautiful woman as luxury item reality of the world It is hard wired in the male brain, often linkedwith competitiveness than love or even lust It s one of those quirks of biology and it is no good pretending it s something only bad people do lest we hurt the feelings of the average ovary holder In truth I reckon it s inconvenient all around from the genetic lottery winners treated liked Faberge eggs to the men from whom the madness emanates We re all in this together.And there you have it Far from being antiquated and narrow minded I found Room at the Top to be cannily perceptive Don t let the period costume fool you, this book has aged well and retains full relevance I m rating it a 3 but don t let that put you off If the rating seems low it is because this excellent morality tale is still a morality tale meaning that, not unlike the talented landscape painters of the French Academy, it is excluded by the simple fact of its genre from the ranks of high literature says me, that s who Fascinating, clear sighted, unique, all these apply to Braine s book but it is a fancy fable Characters illustrate lessons instead of learning them, making Room at the Top instructive rather than immersive and this binds my star giving hand It is a brilliant book of frank insight, though, and definitely worth a read

  7. says:

    Written in 1957, but set a little earlier, this is the story of a shameless social climber.Orphaned Joe was raised by his working class aunt and uncle in a grim northern industrial town Whilst a PoW, he studied for accountancy qualifications and after the war moves to aprosperous town He lodges with a well to do middle aged couple, gets involved with the local amateur dramatic group ands sets about bettering himself whilst ensuring he gets plenty of sex too it was probably pretty racy Written in 1957, but set a little earlier, this is the story of a shameless social climber.Orphaned Joe was raised by his working class aunt and uncle in a grim northern industrial town Whilst a PoW, he studied for accountancy qualifications and after the war moves to aprosperous town He lodges with a well to do middle aged couple, gets involved with the local amateur dramatic group ands sets about bettering himself whilst ensuring he gets plenty of sex too it was probably pretty racy for its time.He considers the cost, quality and availability of everything, including women, with disarming honesty to the reader, though rarely to those he meets in the story He is very manipulative and aware of the fact, yet despite this, there is enough charm to draw the reader into collusion SPOILERS BELOW It is only as all his plotting seems to be coming to fruition that there is a glimpse of any remorse, and the only inkling of any unselfishness is just before that, when it looks as if everything is hopeless.I feel a little guilty for enjoying this book as much as I did Perhaps it s just as well I ve never met anyone like Joe in real life

  8. says:

    Novel set in post war Northern England is like a time capsule into a past world where even the educated working classes faced limited opportunities unless they demonstrated the rare avarice to try and climb socially via marriage which forms the basis of the narrator s quest If the amount of alcohol consumed by rich and poor alike through the process of this story fails to surprise this is England, after all , then the degree of pre marital, extra marital, passing and unprotected sex may shoc Novel set in post war Northern England is like a time capsule into a past world where even the educated working classes faced limited opportunities unless they demonstrated the rare avarice to try and climb socially via marriage which forms the basis of the narrator s quest If the amount of alcohol consumed by rich and poor alike through the process of this story fails to surprise this is England, after all , then the degree of pre marital, extra marital, passing and unprotected sex may shock some who like me thought that somehow people didn t copulate quite so often in pre pill days Then again, it s a novel Comments below this one about the narrator s sexism are entirely appropriate, except that they come from the benefit of hindsight Room at the Top is telling it as the author, John Braine, saw it at the time and the treatment of, and subsequently the behavior of, the women is not desperately different than those in, for example, This Sporting Life, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning or Angry Young Men Narrators are often confused with novelists, and we sometimes want our heroes to act with farheroism But such stories are for children, with their princesses and fairly tale endings This is a story of thing as they once were, retroactive views of equality of gender, class, sexual orientation or, not that it is touched in this book, race be damned Joe climbs to the top the only way he knows how, of the time and at the time You don t have to love him to appreciate his story, and what it tells us about a world that has changed in many, if not all, ways

  9. says:

    Though Joe Lampton was closer in age to my dad than my grandad, this has enough similarities to make it my grandpa s story It was fascinating to read as a teen.

  10. says:

    It s fifty years since A Room At The Top first appeared Against a backdrop of post war Britain, a period when people really did believe that a new future, a different kind of society was just around the corner, Joe Lampton, born January 1921, aspired to social and economic elevation Though competent and already promoted, as a local government officer in a grubby northern English town, with spare time interests in amateur dramatics, cigarettes and beer, even he himself rated his prospects of su It s fifty years since A Room At The Top first appeared Against a backdrop of post war Britain, a period when people really did believe that a new future, a different kind of society was just around the corner, Joe Lampton, born January 1921, aspired to social and economic elevation Though competent and already promoted, as a local government officer in a grubby northern English town, with spare time interests in amateur dramatics, cigarettes and beer, even he himself rated his prospects of success as very poor.But Joe s other passion was the ladies Two in particular caught his eye Alice Aisgarth was married, older than him, and had a local reputation for being a bit forward Basically she wanted love and passion to light up her dull, unhappy life with excitement Susan Brown was a different prospect entirely, being nineteen, virginal and daughter of a rich businessman If Joe Lampton could never work his way to wealth, he might just be able to marry it His problems arose out of Susan s desire to remain pure during their courtship, a position that meant Joe had to continue seeing Alice to satisfy his needs Further complications arose when Susan relented and fell immediately pregnant.Well Joe achieved his goal He and Susan married and he attained what he had sought all along, a meal ticket for life He was not entirely without conscience, however So when the rejected Alice, who deeply loved him, is killed in a car crash after a drunken night trying to drown her sorrows, Joe Lampton does suffer some remorse But eventually, like many social climbers, he achieves his heights by trampling on others.What remains enduringly intriguing about Room At The Top is its portrayal of British society s obsession with social class Joe perceives his best chance of social elevation is to marry money And, in 2007, I re read this novel in a week when a United Kingdom report declared that current day social class differences were widening, whilst opportunities for social mobility are actually decreasing So John Braine s novel is also a social document The book is very much of its own time It reminds us, for instance, that in the 1950s everyone smoked and smoked a lot Men drank pints in the pub some of which did not even admit women Homosexuality was not only not tolerated, it was illegal, though remained visible Some of the recorded individual aspiration now seems nothing less than quaint Alice Aisgarth, for instance, declares that she would like to sleep with Joe Truly sleep, she qualifies, in a big bed with a feather mattress and brass rails and a porcelain chamber pot underneath it In the 1950s, most north of England houses did not have bathrooms and the potties were usually enamel.But it is in the area of social class that A Room At The Top is bitingly and enduringly apt Joe Lampton believes he lacks the capacity to succeed, lacks the necessary background, the poise, the breeding He sees himself as essentially vulgar and possesses no talents which might compensate for this drawback His rival for Susan Brown s affections, however, is one John Wales He is studying for a science degree at Cambridge, and thus acquiring not only the knowledge which will ensure that he will become the managing director of the family firm, but will also endow the polish of manner, the habit of command, the calm superiority of bearing, the attributes of a gentleman.Fifty years on, we might change an odd word, and the family firm might now be multi national, but the spirit of contemporary Britain s class system is arguably the same And so despite the aspiration for and perceived attainment of social change in post war Britain, Room At The Top, juxtaposed with recent evidence, reminds us that very little, if anything, has changed except for the cigarettes and the chamber pots, of course Oh, and we might now also prefer lager

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