Headlong Hall

10 best books like Headlong Hall (Thomas Love Peacock): Remembering Babylon, Room at the Top, Rickshaw Boy, They Were Counted, South Riding, Sybil, or the Two Nations, Novel on Yellow Paper (Revived Modern Classic), GB84, Afternoon Men, Clayhanger

AuthorDavid Malouf
Winner of the IMPAC Award and Booker Prize nominee

In this rich and compelling novel, written in language of astonishing poise and resonance, one of Australia's greatest living writers gives and immensely powerful vision of human differences and eternal divisions.  In the mid-1840s...
AuthorJohn Braine
This novel has astoundingly bad dialogue in it, all the way through to the bitter end, but it’s still a tough piece of British truth-telling. It’s about two things – class, and the possibilities of moving from the working class to the middle-class ( there’s a careful, excruciating listing of...
AuthorLao She
A beautiful new translation of beloved Chinese author Lao She's masterpiece of social realism, about the misadventures of a poor Beijing rickshaw driver

First published in China in 1937, Rickshaw Boy is the story of Xiangzi, an honest and serious country boy who works as a rickshaw puller...
AuthorMiklós Bánffy
Painting an unrivalled portrait of the vanished world of pre-1914 Hungary, this story is told through the eyes of two young Transylvanian cousins, Count Balint Abady and Count Laszlo Gyeroffy. Shooting parties in great country houses, turbulent scenes in parliament, and the luxury of life in Budapest...
AuthorWinifred Holtby
Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Winifred Holtby's greatest novel was published posthumously

Winifred Holtby's masterpiece is a rich evocation of the lives and relationships of the characters of South Riding. Sarah Burton, the fiery young headmistress of the local girls'...
AuthorBenjamin Disraeli
The book is a roman à thèse, or a novel with a thesis -- which was meant to create a furor over the squalor that was plaguing England's working class cities. The general reader whose attention has not been specially drawn to the subject which these volumes aim to illustrate, the Condition of the People,...
AuthorStevie Smith
Sometimes it's not what a book is about that keeps me reading, but how it's written. The trouble is, it's much harder to talk about how a book is written than to simply tell what it's about.

About, about. There are a lot of 'abouts' in the beginning of this review, aren't there? But 'about' is a word...
AuthorDavid Peace
David Peace makes a powerful, angry, ominous, and forbidding monument of a novel of the ’84 UK Miner’s strike (which was an equivalent labor defeat to the ’85 Pan Am strike, but more violent and filled with drama.). If you aren’t in the right frame of mind, this frantic and wonderful read might...
AuthorAnthony Powell
Afternoon Men follows the trivial encounters and idle pastimes of the social set through William Atwater. With a glee in upending pretense that rivals the works of Max Beerbohm and Evelyn Waugh, Powell attacks artistic pretension, aristocratic jadedness, and the dark side of the glamorous life.Afternoon...
AuthorArnold Bennett
Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was a British writer. He went to work for his father but was unhappy working for his father and earning very little money. The theme of parental miserliness occurs in his works. At 21 he went to London to clerk for a solicitor. He then began working for a magazine called Women....
AuthorAndrew O'Hagan
Growing up on the Scottish Isle of Bute, Maria Tambini is a young girl with dreams of escape from her Italian immigrant family. When her amazing singing voice wins her a talent show at the tender age of thirteen, she is whisked off to London and instant stardom.

But even as Maria is celebrating...
AuthorStan Barstow
All about love, lust, and loneliness, the book introduces Vic Brown, a young working-class Yorkshireman. Vic is attracted to the beautiful but demanding Ingrid, and as their relationship grows and changes, he comes to terms the hard way with adult life and what it really means to love. The influence...
AuthorJulian Maclaren-Ross
An interesting novel set in 1939 in the months before the start of war. It opens a window of an England now mostly disappeared; landladies, jobs easy to get and lots of smoking!!. However the themes of love and loss are eternal. The shadow of war is ever present. The main character isn't likeable but the...
AuthorDavid Storey
The north of England in the 1950s, Arthur (not that other great Northern bellower given to us by Alan Sillitoe) wants out of the flat on your back, working yourself to death, working class lifestyle that he was born in to and the only way he can see to escape is through excelling at sport. He's got some physicality...
AuthorWalter Greenwood
In Hanky Park, near Salford, Harry and Sally Hardcastle grow up in a society preoccupied with grinding poverty, exploited by bookies and pawnbrokers, bullied by petty officials and living in constant fear of the dole queue and the Means Test. His love affair with a local girl ends in a shotgun marriage,...
AuthorColin MacInnes
London, 1958—Soho, Notting Hill... a world of smoky jazz clubs, coffee bars and hip hang-outs in the center of London's emerging youth culture. The young and restless—the Absolute Beginners—were creating a world as different as they dared from the traditional image of England's green and...
AuthorPhilip Larkin

Philip Larkin in Oxford, 1943

Philip Larkin opens A Girl in Winter with a chapter, three paragraphs long, in which he describes England during World War II, suffering through a stormy winter, its people trying to carry on daily life through numbness and deprivation:

[The snow]...
AuthorHonoré de Balzac
The Comedy of Human Life (La Comédie Humaine) is the collective title given to a series of linked stories by Balzac, totalling about 100 in all, and loosely divided into groups, such as provincial, Parisian, political, military, and country. Conceived in 1834, his idea was to produce a work with philosophical...
AuthorF. Scott Fitzgerald
A collection of pieces that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote for various publications that the editor James L. W. West put together showing his memoir writing. What's fascinating to me was that Fitzgerald was extremely famous at the time of these articles - so he conveys himself as a character that the public...
AuthorVassilis Vassilikos
Perhaps this is one book where the material is subversive enough that I understand why there are elements in this world who would like to see this banned. And for that reason, also for the reason that I came across this novel by virtue of seeing the list of 1000 novels that people should read in their lifetime...
Four Faultless Felons
AuthorG.K. Chesterton
As usual, today's readers require a knowledge of century-old England or England's English and possibly a more generous vocabulary or at least a strong head for contextual gap-bridging in order to best appreciate Chesterton, especially his fiction.

That said, this book of 4 short mysteries...
The Winter Ground
AuthorCatriona McPherson
Times are hard for a struggling family circus in the long, cold winter of 1925. Pa and Ma Cooke are more than happy to accept the offer of free winter standing on the remote Blackcraig estate in Perthshire in return for a few shows to the Wilson family around Christmastime. Wealthy but brash Albert Wilson...
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