The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

by Robert Tressell

Rating: ***

Brilliant but over-long and rather laboured in places. A strange book and compelling in many ways but does become rather dense and you do realise halfway through that there is not really any driving narrative other than the portrayal and struggles of the working class at the turn of the century, which is portrayed relentlessly and excellently, you can almost smell the degradation and hopelessness emanate from Tressell's writing. But, it does leave somewhat depressed. The core characters, the band of workers at 'The Cave', are, at many times, laugh out loud funny. I was surprised when the book was written because it seems fairly fresh and modern - I thought it was possibly late 60s and was shocked to see it was written and concerning just past the turn of the century. Well worth dipping into but I would not be too hard on yourself if you do skate a couple of chapters.


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