Life at the Top, by John Braine

Sequel to Room at the Top, taking place about ten years after the events of that book. Joe is married to Susan with two children, and working in her father's firm. But he's not found the happiness he hoped for.

Hard to believe this is the same Joe Lampton, it's as if he's had the stuffing knocked out of him. Perhaps this is intentional, but it doesn't really convince, and the book is not so interesting as a result of the weaker character. Joe's marriage and his career and his relationship with his son all have been a disappointment, so maybe the book reflects that in his disillusionment, but there's no convincing explanation of how he's gone from being the dynamic angry young man of the first book to this shadow of himself in the second.

There is quite a bit about Joe's affection for his daughter, so I guess maybe Braine was trying to say something about the relationship between father and child. But this didn't seem particularly insightful, and although there were places where I thought Braine had tried to say something profound, there was nothing to match the sections in the earlier book which were worth quoting.

Not sure it was really worth reading: I think it would be better to have left Joe alone after the first book. This was an unneccessary sequel.

Completed : 12-Sep-2006

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