No longer a boy, not quite a man, Edwin Clayhanger stands on a canal bridge on his last day of school, and surveys the valley of Bursley and the Five Towns. Serious, good-natured and full of incoherent ambition, Edwin's hopes and dreams for the future are just taking shape, even as they are put to the test by challenges from Edwin's domineering father, the stifling constraints of society, and an unusual young woman.
"Crammed with details of Victorian life, the first book in Bennett's trilogy about a Potteries family examines how one man, Edwin Clayhanger, is shaped by class, geography and ties of blood."
"Arnold Bennett writes marvelously on the stuff of life"
"For Bennett...compassion is not soggy. It involves understanding. The core of his writing is psychological truth, clinically observed, crisply reported"