Set in the Five Towns, Clayhanger is a vivid portrayal of English provincial life at the turn of the century. In its story of the idealistic Edwin Clayhanger and his relationship with his tyrannical father, Darius, Bennett gives us a compassionate study of mutual misunderstanding. He is ironic yet affectionate in his depiction of the manufacturing industry and a society under pressure in a rapidly changing world. Clayhanger, as Andrew Lincoln says in his Introduction, is one of Bennett's 'most carefully polished mirrors of life in the Five Towns'.
'A great writer... I find his impact completely undiminished by time.'