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Hilda Lessways

Arnold Bennett

Book Overview: 

This book is the second in Bennett’s four books about life in the Five Towns (the real life Potteries in Staffordshire). It tells the story of Hilda before her marriage to Edwin Clayhanger (from the first book). Bennett explores Hilda's ambition to make a career for herself, her coming of age and her working experiences as a shorthand clerk and keeper of a lodging house in London and Brighton. He also shows her intensifying relationship with the enigmatic George Cannon that ends in her disastrous bigamous marriage and pregnancy, and finally her reconciliation with Edwin Clayhanger

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .nt to young limbs; and now she was rheumatic.

"Nobody but Mr. Cannon can do anything," Janet murmured.

"I'm sure he hasn't the slightest idea--not the slightest!" said Hilda half defensively. But she was saying to herself: "This man made me write a lie, and now I hear that his sister is starving--in the same town!" And she thought of his glossy opulence. "I'm quite sure of that!" she repeated to Janet.

"Oh! So am I!" Janet eagerly concurred. "That's why I came.... Somebody had to give him a hint.... I never dreamt of finding you, dear!"

"It is strange, isn't it?" said Hilda, the wondrous romance of things seizing her. Seen afresh, through the eyes of this charming, sympathetic acquaintance, was not Mr. Cannon's originality in engaging her positively astounding?

"I suppose you couldn't give him a hint?"

"Yes, I'll tell him," said Hilda. "Of course!" In spite of herself she was assuming a certain proprietorship in Mr. . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I read the first volume some years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can certainly read "Hilda Lessways" without having read (or remembered) the first book. This story is about a young woman coming of age - what makes it interesting is the choices that she takes to decide her own life. She is a str

It seems this novel is thought inferior to its predecessor, Clayhanger. This is surely because it lacks a character as thoroughly memorable as Clayhanger's astounding Darius. But then, you won't find a character more interesting and compelling than Darius Clayhanger in almost any other novel, by Ben

I hate doing the silly scoring thing for books I really enjoy, because I always go too high - anyway, I loved Clayhanger and this was equally brilliant, not least in the overlaps between the two. One to put on your 'Top Literary Heroines' list.

The second book in the Clayhanger series, this novel follows the life of Hilda Lessways and compliments and expands on the first book Clayhanger. Hilda Lessways is written in a parallel time line with the first book. Many of the events of the first are echoed in the second and this creates an intere

This dovetails cleverly with Clayhanger but Arnold Bennett has to be quite ingenious on occasion to reconcile Hilda's two lives (and almost two personalities). An intriguing read for those who enjoy late 19th century/early 20th century realism.

Very good read. Tasty omelette too.

Hilda is an interesting female character with many contradictions. While she is strong-minded and will perform a strong impulse as it comes to her even as it is controversial, she minds it when there is gossip about her and Cannon. She is unable to let go of what she perceives as the duty she owes t

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