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Helen with the High Hand

Narrated by: Peter Newcombe Joyce
Length: 6 hrs and 50 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Summary

Bennett described his story as an 'idyllic diversion'.

Helen Rathbone meets her elderly uncle, James Ollerenshaw, in Bursley Park, after an estrangement of several years. Both are very strong-willed, independent characters. Helen has an extravagant lifestyle and likes to spend money while the old man has lived a thrifty life and intends to continue in the same way. However, they develop a friendship which progresses rapidly, and Helen moves in to James' house to look after him.

A battle of wills begins in earnest. Both use all the cunning and emotional blackmail they can muster to get their own ways, and both experience a transformation as romance comes knocking at the door.

A wonderfully humorous and observant study of human nature and life in the Potteries at the turn of the century.

Public Domain (P)2015 Assembled Stories

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A delicious novel, delightfully narrated.

This has always been my favourite 'Five Towns' novel, and Peter Newcombe Joyce realises it beautifully, bringing out all the gems of wit, irony and verbal swordplay between the protagonists. He is impressively versatile in his voicing of the characters, switching apparently effortlessly between James ('grumpy old man' with a broad Midlands accent) and Helen (haughty young woman, very much RP), plus a host of other characters. Bennett gave this novel the subtitle, 'An Idyllic Diversion', and that feels spot on - it's wonderful for a bit of escapism when real life feels too dark.

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Superb

Beautifully written in true Arnold Bennett style. The characters are brilliantly depicted and come alive as you listen.