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The Card

Arnold Bennett

Book Overview: 

The ‘Card’ in question is Edward Henry Machin – his mother called him ‘Denry.’
This light-hearted story is of his rise from humble beginnings as the son of a washerwoman and sempstress in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, in the pottery towns (which Arnold Bennett christened ‘The Five Towns’) of the English Midlands; how, by his own wits, enterprise and ‘nerve’ he rose to wealth, married bliss and public recognition as the youngest-ever mayor of his home town.

“’And yet,’ demanded Councillor Barlow, ‘what’s he done? What great cause is he identified with?’

‘He’s identified,’ said the speaker, ‘with the great cause of cheering us all up’.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Convenient!" she cried. "It's perfectly convenient, only I don't care to. I won't pay a penny until I'm forced. Let Mr Herbert Calvert do his worst, and then I'll pay. And not before! And the whole town shall hear all about Mr Herbert Calvert!"

"I see," he laughed easily.

"Convenient! " she reiterated, contemptuously. "I think everybody in Bursley knows how my client. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Edward Henry Machin, known as Denry Machin, is The Card of the title.

He's known as Denry because his mother realised she could save a certain amount of time each and every day by calling him Denry instead of Edward Henry.

The story is mostly set in The Five Towns apart from excursions to Llandudno a

It is many years since I first read The Card and it’s still as brilliantly enjoyable now. If ever there was a book which contradicted Mark Twain’s definition of a classic as something everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read, this should be it.

First published in 1911, this is the story o

The Card (1911) is a short, light and entertaining novel by Arnold Bennett. It's only the second book I have read by Arnold Bennett but I will certainly be reading more.

The first Bennet novel I read was the splendid Riceyman Steps (1923) which I recommend (see my review for more on that one).


Bennett’s The Card is a light frolic following the rise to power and prominence of a local character whose schemes propel him into the hearts of the Five Towns. Characters like Denry Machin are no longer witty and charming in our political world, where “cards” like Trump and Johnson are elected and

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