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)
Genre(s): Literary Fiction
Group: The Clayhanger Family