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Anna of the Five Towns

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  694 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
1902. Anna of the Five Towns depicts the severe economic and moral pressures of life in the Staffordshire Potteries in the late nineteenth century. Against the vitality and harshness of the Five Towns, Bennett's narrative is a compelling delineation of his heroine's attempts to gain freedom and independence from her father and the repressive regime of Methodism. This is th ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published August 31st 1978 by Penguin Books (first published 1902)
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Jane Oh, yes. I think of it as a very proper story for a young person.
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A plot summary would make this short, but perfectly formed novel sound parochial, unoriginal and maybe dull. It is not. Bennett is a wonderful observer and writer of the small-scale aspects that make life real and characters spring to life. He's also pretty good at writing female characters. In fact, by far the weakest character is male: the faultless Henry Mynors.

In many ways, my life is utterly different from Anna's, but in some key ways, I can identify with her more than I might wish to.

Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I loved this book. It had everything, men, moods and money (and maybe murder), very melodramatic. What more do you want in a Victorian potboiler? It would make a wonderful Hollywood-style movie. Plenty of opportunity for some thin, big-eyed, dark-haired beauty to lean out of a window and emote, panting fetchingly as her bosom heaves up and down and her eyes fill with glycerine tears. It wouldn't be able to be true to life because if there any two English accents I find difficult to understand, i ...more
As everybody knows there are just two types of people in the world, however as many suspect, there is some disagreement as to who they are. Some say the rich and the poor, others the hungry and the fed, a few with a touch of whimsy might suggest women and men, or old and young. If however you've a sense of the depth and breadth of the division between the reserved and the expansive then you can appreciate the muted tones of this book.

This is a novel in which small things said, or not said, count
Mar 19, 2013 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I loved this novel because, as I heard somewhere, it raised the ordinary to extraordinary.
And that's exactly what makes this a thrilling novel. Nothing exceptional goes on, just what life for a young woman in an industrial village at the end of the XIX century might have been like. Unadorned and real.

Anna is an ordinary girl, who leads a simple existence with her tyrannical father and her younger half sister. She performs her duties without complaint, without any fuss or expectations. She is hum
Mar 13, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
Arnold Bennett's powerful story of love, tyranny and rebellion set against the vitality and harshness of life in the Staffordshire Potteries in the late nineteenth century, dramatised by Helen Edmundson.

Brought up in the repressive tradition of Methodism by her miserly father, Anna Tellwright dreams of independence and freedom. On coming of age she learns that she is to inherit a fortune and realises that she is loved by the charismatic Henry Mynors. But with the money comes responsibility and a
Feb 17, 2015 Griselda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anna Tellwright is one of my favourite heroines, coming a close third after Emma Bovary and Tess Durbeyfield. Arnold Bennett, like Hardy, depicts his heroine with warmth and affection, compassionate in her suffering and tolerant of her faults. Writing this novel before D.H. Lawrence's Brangwen novels were published, but working with similar settings, characters and themes, Bennett puts before us poor, narrow-minded and bigoted communities, but he never loses his sense of fun, exaggerating Ephrai ...more
Doreen Petersen
Mar 31, 2016 Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Delightful classic. Sad ending but the story was enjoyable nevertheless.
Jan 23, 2015 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Having read a little about Arnold Bennett and knowing, roughly, the story of Clayhanger, I decided to give this a go. I have had this book for years having bought it as a part of a set of 3. Brighton Rock being the book I bought the set for originally. I couldn't believe how great this slight novel is. I couldn't put it down. Bennett counjours up the grim beauty of Stoke-on-Trent at the turn of the century really vividly. His characters are extremely vivid, especially Ephraim Tellwright and of c ...more
Pauline Montagna
Jul 18, 2013 Pauline Montagna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anna of the Five Towns is an example of an intrinsically Victorian genre, the Industrial Novel, and as such can be read on the political as well as the personal level. Bennett’s novel was published in 1902 when industrialisation was firmly entrenched in British society. The Five Towns are a fictionalised Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, centre of the English ceramics industry known as ‘the potteries’.

Bennett grew up in Staffordshire, but left it for London as a young man. Although no doubt he c

I picked up this book in a used bookstore in Preston, England, knowing nothing about Bennett. And while I enjoyed the writing and particularly some of the family portraits he lays out, the crux of the book -- Anna's relationships with men -- doesn't quite work for me (don't worry, no spoiler alert needed).

Anna lives in one of the "Five Towns" near Liverpool renowned for their pottery making and coal mining, and Bennett does not spare the cityscapes from caustic descriptions. Her father is a mise
Dana Loo
Feb 02, 2016 Dana Loo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un buon romanzo tipicamente vittoriano dalla prosa essenziale che, nell'intreccio, risente dell'influenza d Balzac e Turgenev, ambientato in un distretto industriale che l'autore descrive cercando di infondergli, paradossalmente, una certa bellezza. Anna è una figlia sottomessa ad un padre avaro, meschino e tirannico, una ragazza sensibile, che vive con disagio anche una difficile conversione. Sente molto la sua miserevole situazione, sebbene abbia ereditato una cospicua dote, sopratutto in cont ...more
Jan 01, 2015 Sylvester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The further I got into this book, the more impressed I became. Not just by the novel itself, but by the fact it was written by a man. It's such a sensitive and powerful portrayal of daughter-to-father obedience/loyalty vs. the struggle of personal conscience and sense of justice. Anna is such an appealing woman, similar to Jane Eyre in her strong sense of individuality and resistance to pressure from any quarter. I loved the revival scenes - how often do you get to see the negative side of good ...more
Nov 07, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vic Heaney
Dec 17, 2011 Vic Heaney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Arnold Bennett has such a wonderful way of capturing the way people think and speak - or rather as they thought and spoke 100 ago.

I used to live in the Stoke on Trent area and am at home with the dialect words and phrases. Also with the area. Arnold Bennett uses slightly fictionalised names for the towns (Bursley instead of Burslem, for instance) and streets (Trafalgar Street instead of Waterloo Road) so anybody familiar with the area knows exactly where his characters live, where the
Feb 03, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars. It was somewhat painful to read, and I was left feeling puzzled about the surprise ending.
Jan 16, 2012 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never read anything by Arnold Bennett before this, but now definitely want to read more of his. It's a powerful turn of the 20th century novel set in the Potteries, which is said to have been influenced by Balzac and has a similarly grim, closed-in feeling. The heroine, Anna, is the daughter of a rich but miserly businessman, who delights in controlling every aspect of her life, and wants to turn her into someone in his image - but she yearns to escape. The whole community is compellingly ...more
Janet Gogerty
Mar 26, 2015 Janet Gogerty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember why I put this on my Kindle, perhaps I read it on a list of books one should read, or maybe I was reading about Arnold Bennett. I download books I like the sound of to add to my collection - then enjoy choosing what to read next, usually something completely different in time and place from the last.
So I came to this book having never read any Arnold Bennett and having only visited Stoke on Trent once - an enjoyable family outing when we were staying in the area to visit Alton T
Nov 06, 2014 Antenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, this seemed wooden and dated, a pale imitation of Trollope or Eliot, who had been writing in a similar vein two generations earlier. Initially, I found the main source of interest in the detailed descriptions of the industrial landscape of "The Five Towns", a kind of verbal Lowry, if the latter had painted the Potteries rather than Manchester.

Then, I became hooked by Bennett's portrayal of the main characters, which in time seemed to me more realistic and telling than his more celebrat
There are many detailed reviews of this novel, which cover the plot in detail. I will not try to emulate those here. This short novel set in the Potteries is full of poignant observations about the religious, social and financial aspects of life during these times. I really liked the subtle interplay between the characters. The innocence of Anna, the intransigence of her father, the determination of Henry.

A book of social conventions.
A book of torn family loyalty.
A book exploring the strict exp
Carey Combe
Mar 17, 2011 Carey Combe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stacey Cleworth
Anna of the five towns follows the seemingly ordinary life of the humble and dutiful Anna Tellwright, who as a young woman learns of her coming-of-age inheritance, reserved for her by her mother. Despite her wealth, she remains under the control of her father, in both the real and financial world. Money aside, the novel follows Anna’s first stirrings with love, struggles with religion and her fathers wrath.

Arnold Bennett’s writing is marked by vitality of style, giving an insight into the harshn
Jun 08, 2015 Todd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the last year I have read two powerful novels by Arnold Bennett, Anna of the Five Towns and The Old Wives’ Tale. Both books are first rate, and I wonder why Bennett is not more widely known. Anna of the Five Towns tells the story of the struggle of a young woman to gain independence from her miserly and controlling father at the end of the nineteenth century. (She succeeds but pays a price) The Old Wives’ Tale tells the intertwining stories of two sisters over the space of a lifetime and is r ...more
Jan 20, 2014 Silas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the seemingly pedestrian, workhorse-like prose fool you: this novel pack a wallop. I can say, without exaggeration, that it is one of the most moving works of fiction I've read in a very long time.
Nov 04, 2013 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, audiobook
What a pleasant and surprising read, well, actually I listened to the audio book. Arnold Bennett is very classic and I will be searching for more books by this author, what a gem.
Vittorio Ducoli
Apr 21, 2013 Vittorio Ducoli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anna la mite non può che sottomettersi

Anna delle cinque città, romanzo scritto da Arnold Bennett a cavallo tra '800 e '900, è stato per me, che non conoscevo questo autore, una piacevolissima sorpresa.
Il libro si inserisce infatti a pieno titolo nel filone, tipicamente britannico, dell'analisi e della critica delle relazioni sociali determinatesi nella società industriale inglese dell'800.
L'ambientazione è quella di un “distretto industriale della ceramica”, dove gli unici valori riconosciuti so
Jul 03, 2012 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ephraim Tellwright is the landlord from hell. Rich but miserly, he keeps his tenants in squalor while extorting rent which they can't pay. He is equally tyrannical with his two motherless daughters. When his older daughter Anna turns 21, she comes into money of her own and her father insists on her taking over some of his business while still keeping a tight rein on how she conducts it. One day, she commits an act of defiance.
Like most authors of the classics, Arnold Bennett is equally at home i
Jun 19, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ANNA OF THE FIVE TOWNS. (1902). Arnold Bennett. ****.
The plot where a daughter is severely under the control of her father and must do as he says seems to a common one in Victorian literature – much like vampire literature is today. This is one of those novels. Its heroine, Anna Tellwright, lives with her father, Ephraim, and her younger sister, Agnes. She has just turned twenty-one, and her father, since he had no choice, has turned over the inheritance to her that she received from her mother
Oct 07, 2013 Farah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure about some parts in the novel but overall it was great. I just hope more would be put in to talk about Ana and Willie as their love seemed out of a sudden at the end. Yes, you can expect that she would love him but due to insufficient details about their relationship, you would find it odd and hasty. I do not like to feel that the author is getting bored with his novel and wants to finish it as dramatically as possible. However, I am grateful to the closure in Anna's relationship w ...more
Oct 30, 2013 Bethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regular-fiction
What an austerely beautiful novel. It took me back to reading D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf as a teen (same era and same country). It moved me and made me cry and it horrified me emotionally a little. I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece by any means - it is ordinary - but, gentle and easy to read, it worked for me for obscure reasons. Probably because it is subtle, and real, and sad.

Set in a small town of the Staffordshire Potteries at the turn of the nineteenth century, Anna, the main charact
Sep 20, 2015 Lucy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a rather unbalanced read. Sometimes I thought, stop telling us everything, let us infer what Anna is thinking not have it spelled out so laboriously, and sometimes I thought, well how did we get here, as in why did Ephraim stop preaching? What are we meant to think of Beatrice? Her whole family and their place in the story felt tacked-on, somehow. Why did Anna put up with what she did, and why didn't ....oh, I could go on, but read it for yourself. The end, however, is chillingly ex ...more
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Enoch Arnold Bennett (always known as Arnold Bennett) was one of the most remarkable literary figures of his time, a product of the English Potteries that he made famous as the Five Towns. Yet he could hardly wait to escape his home town, and he did so by the sheer force of his ambition to succeed as an author. In his time he turned his hand to every kind of writing, but he will be remembered for ...more
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