Arnold Bennett's... splendidly comic portrayal of Edward Henry Machin, known as Denry to his mother to save time, is set in Bursley, one of the author's Five Towns of Staffordshire. Starting in 1897, when Denry first saw the smoke of the pot banks, the tale chronicles his rise to fame and wealth including such events as improving his exam results to guarantee success, adjusting the guest list of the municipal ball to include himself and then daring to ask the Countess of Chell to dance! Denry is given a week's notice as a result of this last impertinence but soon turns it to his advantage, setting up in business as a Rent Collector and Estate Agent. Eventually Denry becomes Bursley's youngest Mayor having gained the reputation of the Five Towns greatest 'Card'.
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- E. W. Sawyer