Thank you for the wonderful response to my decision to host a Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week in June.
Some of you aren’t so familiar with her books, so I thought I’d post a bibliography and give an idea of the subject for each of them, in time for you to find copies of those that interest you in time to join in. I’m posting it in two parts.
I normally include my affiliate links at the bottom of a post but on this occasion, please forgive me – click on the book title and it’ll take you to the most readily copies available on Amazon UK. (It’s taken me three and a half years of blogging to accumulate £25 in commissions, so it isn’t a big money-spinner!)
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Harriet Said (1972). Two schoolgirls are on holiday in a Northern resort. One becomes interested in an unhappily married, middle-aged man. She and her friend Harriet begin a plot to humiliate him. But their fantasy merges into reality, with shocking and unexpected results.
The Dressmaker(1973) Titled The Secret Glass in the USA, Beryl’s second novel gained her, her first Booker shortlist nomination. Set in wartime Liverpool, Rita falls in love with Ira, a GI. Her aunts Nellie and Margo aren’t convinced though. Billed as darkly comic.
The Bottle Factory Outing (1974) Won the Guardian fiction prize and achieved a second Booker shortlisting, this novel is an train-wreck waiting to happen. Brenda and Freda work for an Italian wine importer and are organising a works outing. Complex, very black comedy, superb.
Sweet William(1975) Ann throws over her fiancé Gerald for William – a serial womaniser. Can’t live with him, can’t live without him – what is she to do?
A Quiet Life(1976) A post-war family drama set in the 1950s – Everyone in Alan’s family has something to hide, they’re all hanging on in quiet desperation, to quote Pink Floyd.
Injury Time(1977) Edward is throwing a dinner party with his mistress, Binny. However, some awkward guests arrive and Edward isn’t home yet … a painful comedy.
Young Adolf(1978) A young Adolf Hitler turns up to stay with his brother in Liverpool. Artist Adolf is a slacker who gets into trouble easily though – how will he turn out? Sounds like Beryl is at her wickedest in this novel of high farce!
Another Part of the Wood(1968, revised 1979) Her second novel, but revised and republished in 1979. Joseph takes his mistress, son and some friends to stay in a cabin in deepest Wales for the weekend. It won’t work, will it?!
Winter Garden(1980) Douglas takes a mistress, Nina, but soon he’s not able to cope with being an adulterer. Telling his wife needs a break, she packs him off fishing in the Highlands, but instead he goes to Moscow with Nina. Uh-Oh! Things will go wrong…
A Weekend with Claude(1967, revised 1981) Another early novel revised and republished. A weekend in the country goes very wrong and ends up with someone being shot. (Until my copy ordered arrives, I don’t know much more about this one).
Watson’s Apology(1984) The first of Beryl’s historical novels, this book recounts the story of a clergyman who, in 1851, bludgeoned his wife to death. Based on a real case, she presents a portrait of how this terrible crime might have come to happen.
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So there we have it. Part one of Beryl’s books – Maybe one of these titles will pique your interest. In part two early next week, I’ll survey her later novels, short story collections and non-fiction books.