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Room at the Top (At The Top)

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,256 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
The ruthlessly ambitious Joe Lampton rises swiftly from the petty bureaucracy of local government into the world of inherited wealth, fast cars and glamorous women. But betrayal and tragedy strike as the original 'angry young man' of the fifties pursues his goals.
Hardcover
Published by Methuen Publishing (first published 1957)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,812)
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Sue
Feb 18, 2016 Sue rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sue by: David Bowie's Top 100 Books
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
...more
Paul Bryant
Jun 17, 2016 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels

And Tom Jones begat Nicholas Nickleby who begat Heathcliff who begat Paul Morel who begat Oliver Mellors who begat Steerpike; and Steerpike begat Jim Dixon who begat Joe Lampton who begat William Fisher who begat Arthur Seaton who begat Frederick Clegg; and Frederick Clegg begat Frank Machin who begat Alfie Elkins who begat Alex DeLarge; and Alex DeLarge begat Mark Renton; and these were the generations of the toilers by hand in the land of Albion; and some were blessed and lived off the fat of
...more
C.S. Burrough
Mar 08, 2015 C.S. Burrough rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Most
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
...more
Kaph
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 po
...more
Tony Fletcher
Aug 02, 2011 Tony Fletcher rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Cecily
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 a more prosperous 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
...more
Steven
Jan 27, 2013 Steven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, british
1 of the great gems of modern literature - if you have a heart, you will be in tears. Unfortunately, an all too true account of how love is in the real world, rather than how we wish it were.
Chris
Jun 25, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it
John Braine's postwar novel, another installment in the 'angry young men' genre, focuses on the meteoric rise of the young Joe Lampton. The protagonist moves to the northern industrial town of Warley and sets himself the challenge of making room for himself at the top of the social ladder.

He flees the zombie filled restrictions of his hometown and gets himself a room with The Thompsons, a local family with links to the local theatre group. Not one to turn down an opportunity, he immediately gets
...more
Philip
Sep 19, 2008 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
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 ...more
Rob
Jul 16, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sitting opposite my Dad on the train, he noticed the dust jacket of this book and remarked - 'Joe Lampton?'

Hence, my realisation that in his day, and largely due to the subsequent TV series rather than John Braine's novel, Lampton was as familiar a character as Dirty Den or JR; D'Angelo Barksdale or Don Draper.

The novel spins on the reader's view - is Lampton's behaviour condoned or condemned? There's no doubt he's fully dislikeable and his behaviour is appalling but the inner voice lent by the
...more
Lostaccount Darkpool
May 11, 2016 Lostaccount Darkpool rated it it was amazing
Joe Lampton ("I’m better looking than everyone else") narcissistic womaniser with a chip on his shoulder about being working class relocates from crappy Dufton (up north somewhere) to Warley (who knows where) in the hope of rising t’top but ends up trying to sleep his way to the top.

Joe meets his first batch of victims at the local theatre group. But he has a rival for his affection in Jack Wales, a moneyed toff, betrothed to Susan, the nineteen year old naive little chaste rich bitch whom Joe f
...more
Realini
Oct 19, 2014 Realini rated it really liked it
Room At The Top by John Braine
The Romanian Version: Drumul Spre Inalta Societate

This is a good, modern novel, which was adapted for the big screen. The movie went on to win two Academy Awards for Simone Signoret in the leading role and for adapted screenplay.
Joe Lampton is a complex character, with positive traits and aspects that can make him loathsome to some readers.
I empathized with him and feel that his effort to ascend in society is not as ruthless as it may first seem. I may have misread
...more
Bruce Beckham
Feb 02, 2015 Bruce Beckham rated it liked it
I enjoy novels set in post-war Britain; Room at the Top was published in 1957.

It makes a promising start – authentic and gritty – as its working-class protagonist, Joe Lampton, steps into the footlights of a middle-class world of affairs and amateur dramatics.

However, for me, the story rather loses its way somewhere around the middle, and there occurs an implausible rift in one of the key relationships. Indeed I became confused as to whether Joe’s affairs were of the heart or heartlessly cynical
...more
Draganka
Прочетох доста суперлативи за книгата, но не мога да ги споделя. Плотът на книгата е линеен, няма нищо кой знае какво: провинционален младеж с големи планове и изгледи за успех, понеже е кадърен и красив. Обаче беден. Проправя си път като уж се влюбва в най-богатата (и най-красивата, разбира се) наследница на богато семейство, прави и дете от раз. В същото време обича невороятно старата (на 34!) Алис, която е започнала да повяхва (поне на пет места в книгата главният герой прави сравнения между ...more
Judith Johnson
Mar 13, 2016 Judith Johnson rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book - another of David Bowie's favorite books. The main character is both engaging and disgusting. Set in England right after World War 'll with rationing still in effect, he represents the worst of capitalism consumerism. He is self centered and shallow. He breaks it off with a woman he claims to love but criticizes in his mind for her physical shortcomings. She is older, married and has no money of her own. He goes for marriage to a young girl from a wealthy ...more
Adelina Gabriela
Mar 23, 2016 Adelina Gabriela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, cultural
Nu ştiu dacă am ajuns în înalta societate cu romanul de faţă, dar cert e că a fost o plăcere să fac drumul ăsta alături de el.
Ca subiecte des abordate de-a lungul timpului, dorinţa de înavuţire a tinerilor în secolul trecut şi zbuciumul psihologic la care sunt aceştia supuşi din cauza alegerilor (dragoste - bani) nu fac din romanul lui Braine ceva foarte original, iar acţiunea este destul de previzibilă. Spre final raportul dintre realitate şi ficţiune înclină spre ireal; aşadar happy-end-ul e
...more
Philip
Aug 20, 2008 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After recently re-reading John Braine’s Room at the Top, I went On Chesil Beach, courtesy of Ian McEwan. Without doubt the latter is a masterpiece, whereas the former seems to be a little too reliant on its contemporary setting, its social mores, its finely tuned appreciation of social class to be considered more than “of its time”. Concatenating the two books, however, has made me think a little more about the underpinning thesis of Ian McEwan’s book, that the early 1960s remained an age when s ...more
Laurent
Apr 23, 2012 Laurent rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books
Explores what it takes to achieve one's goals, and what this costs to one's humanity

I enjoyed Room at the Top and thought it was an interesting look at post-War Britain, it's class structure and the challenges faced by those who wish to climb the class-ladder. Joe Lampton is a hard character to like but I wouldn't say he's dislikeable either.

A natural and gifted womaniser and commendable Government employee, Joe's goal is to advance his situation, often at the close peril of selling his soul, wi
...more
Sister_ray
Apr 20, 2009 Sister_ray rated it it was ok

First read in 1991 for school: It made me terribly angry, because I absolutely loathed the first-person-narrator. He's a misogynistic, manipulating and socially upward asshole and I was furious that we had to read this stuff. I was guilty of confusing the narrator with the author and transferred all my anger onto John (without a) Braine.
Upon re-reading I'm still not sure that the writer himself sees things differently than his protagonist. Sure, Britain's post-war society with its class boundar
...more
Leslie
Like so much post-war British fiction, this is all about class tensions: working class young man yearning to move up the social ladder and have the nice things in life, as far away as possible from the shabby bedroom and ugly industrial town he grew up in, and longing for a lovely young daughter of privilege as his entry to that room at the top. It's interesting enough but dated. I found the repeated assertions, mostly by the female characters, that women see being beaten by the man they love as ...more
Flave
Nov 28, 2014 Flave rated it really liked it
I would have liked to read it not over several days but just one day, so the story would have been more intriguing…I didn't have the time to do it like that and always read some short passages which didn't change the fact that the book is great. It gives you a great insight into the protagonist's feelings and wishes. He's obsessed with the idea of becoming rich and in the end, he is wealthy and married - but unhappy. I guess the story as itself is not something new (marrying in order to get mone ...more
Simone Guest
Mar 27, 2016 Simone Guest rated it liked it
Room at the top is a study in British post war it's class structures and the challenges young people faced. The central character joe Lampton he is a young man from a modest background that finds himself wanting more. He is an angry young man lashing out at a world stacked against him.
Room at the top is an excellent example of social realism. I think the cultural merit far out ways it's literary merit. It's a great read for a cold winter night with a warm cup of tea. It will leave you with a se
...more
Alice Vaum
Jul 29, 2016 Alice Vaum rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Parerea mea despre cartea asta nu este una foarte buna. Sunt cam dezamagita. Nu prea are niciun sens, nicio invatatura, e pur si simplu un roman, care se pare ca mie mi-a displacut enorm.
Doua-trei idei din carte mi-au placut si cam atat. AAAAAAND no happy ending :( , at least from my point of view...
Speranta in cel de-al doilea volum :)
Leo Schulz
Dec 31, 2012 Leo Schulz rated it really liked it
Oddly enough, I picked up an old edition of Room at the Top from a barrow in Whitstable and very nearly wrote to the TLS suggesting it as a suitable find for their Perambulatory Christmas Books - only for it to appear in that very column a week later! I read it straight through and thought it a damn fine story, despite the somewhat conventional story. The critic at the TLS was spot on about the enthralling detail of post-War England. It is almost Proustian in capturing the tipping point between ...more
Ciaran Mcfadden
Oct 13, 2014 Ciaran Mcfadden rated it liked it
A good book, but (IMO) one which could have been better.
Gritty, realistic, down to earth writing which was slightly spoilt by an overly, melodramatic last 20 pages or so.
Still well worth a read.
Jason Horton
Jun 23, 2014 Jason Horton rated it really liked it
Shelves:
An authentic slice of the postwar class divide, I love the charming, calculating and flawed Joe.
Some very old fashioned/misogynistic attitudes here, hard to tell if the author is for or against them.
Lucie Novak
Jan 28, 2015 Lucie Novak rated it really liked it
I read this book in Czech a long time ago. I loved it and read it several times. The brilliantly written flawed main character. I liked the second part, too.
Allexiss
Feb 01, 2015 Allexiss rated it it was ok
Книгата не ми хареса. Разтегнатите картини ми дойдоха в повече. За мен героите не бяха изградени достатъчно и интригата, която искаше да се получи, ми дойде постна и безинтересна.
Karen
May 31, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
David Bowie’s Formative Reading List of 75 Favorite Books
#69
Suzanne Bailey
Sep 05, 2014 Suzanne Bailey rated it liked it
Well written. I was turned off by the Joe's attitude toward women. There was no one in the book I really liked or could relate to.
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John Gerard Braine was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1922. He sprang to immediate fame in 1957 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 for the screen in an Oscar-winning 1959 film starring Simone Signoret and Laurence Harvey. His second novel, The Vodi (1959), met with mixed reviews and a disa ...more
More about John Braine...

Other Books in the Series

At The Top (2 books)
  • Life at the Top

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