Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week – Review Round-up

Thank you again to everyone who has joined in Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week. I said I’d do a full round up – so here are all the links so far. If I’ve missed you out, please leave a link in the comments and I’ll add you in. As Simon did for his Review Round-up for Muriel Spark Reading Week back in April, I’ve listed Beryl’s books chronologically(ish) — ie in publication order.  As you can see, there’s a few in the middle none of us have got to so far, so that’s where my ongoing reading will continue I think…

These links will also get transferred into my new Reading Beryl page on the tab above.

Harriet Said… (1972) – Seamus at Vapour Trails, Harriet Devine, Gaskella
The Dressmaker (US: The secret glass) (1973) – Alex in Leeds
The Bottle Factory Outing (1974) – Ali at Heavenali, Skiourophile, Sophia at Page Plucker, Gaskella from my archive,
Sweet William (1975) – Simon T at Stuck in a book, Gaskella
A Quiet Life (1976) – Margaret at Books Please, Gaskella
Injury Time (1977) – Simon T at Stuck in a book, Stu at Winston’s Dad, Gaskella
Young Adolf (1978)
Another Part of the Wood (revised) (1979)
Winter Garden (1980)
A Weekend with Claude (revised) (1981)
Watson’s Apology (1984)
Mum and Mr Armitage (short stories) (1985)
Filthy Lucre (juvenalia from 1946) (1986) – Simon S from Savidge Reads
An Awfully Big Adventure (1989) – Harriet Devine, David H at Follow the Thread, Geranium Cat, Chris at The Book Trunk
The Birthday Boys (1991) – Gaskella from my archive,
Collected Stories (short stories) (1994)
Every Man For Himself (1996) – Alex in Leeds, Harriet Devine, Sophia at Page Plucker
Master Georgie (1998) – Col at The Only Way Is Reading, Sophia at Page Plucker
According to Queeney (2001) – Chris at The Book Trunk, Harriet Devine
The Girl in the Polka-dot Dress (2011)

Non-Fiction:
English Journey or The Road to Milton Keynes (1984) – Alex in Leeds (and see her other link below).
Forever England: North and South (1987)
Something Happened Yesterday (1993) – Simon T at Stuck in a Book
Front Row: Evenings at the Theatre (2005) – Gaskella

Other Beryl posts and links you must see:

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A Polka-Dot Giveaway

It’s Sunday tea-time in the UK, and we’re coming to the end of Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week.  Thank you to everyone who’s taken part by reading, posting, reviewing, commenting and just popping by.

I’ve found all the books of hers that I’ve read to be brilliantly written, wickedly subversive and often very funny, each one different yet reassuringly the same – in that she has a consistent style of writing, which once it gels with you won’t let you go.  I’ve also found I’ve become rather fond of her – she’s Beryl to me now, not Bainbridge any more.

I realise that some of you may still be reading with a write-up to follow.  Keep them coming and I will do a review round-up with all the links in one place later in the week.  

I will also be pasting all the links in my new tab at the top of the page – Reading Beryl, so there’ll be an easy to retrieve record of the week and I intend to keep reading the rest of her books as an on-going project.  If you have been inspired to read more, do comment on the page and leave your link.

And for anyone who hasn’t read enough about Beryl, here’s a link to her interview in the Paris Review from 2000.

* * *  However I’d like to end the week with a giveaway! * * *

Beryl’s last novel The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress will finally be published in paperback at the beginning of July.  I’m offering three copies of the book (and will send them to anywhere that the Book Depository sends to).  I’ll make the draw next Friday.

Just leave a comment – and tell me your favourite Bainbridge novel, moment from this week, or anything else Beryl-related.

Good luck!

It’s Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week!

Welcome to Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week

I hope that many of you will join us in reading one of her books this week, and maybe posting about it, or leaving a comment on any of the Beryl posts here. Please do leave a link to your review in the comments below so everyone can follow the trail.  I will do a round-up post with all of the links in one place at the end of the week.

I really hope that you enjoy reading this very British author’s works.  Let me know your favourites; whether you prefer her historical works or her gritty dramas; whether you find her writing funny, wicked, or anything else.

I’m off to continue reading … my first review will follow soon. It’ll be about one of these…

Getting Ready for Beryl…

Later this month I’m hosting a Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week (June 18-24).  Thanks to everyone who has said they plan to join in so far.

If you need a little help deciding what to read, a full bibliography of her works can be seen in these posts from a couple of weeks ago – part one and part two.  I am indebted to Seamus at Vapour Trails for spotting that I’d missed out Young Adolf from my lists. This has now been remedied. Thanks Seamus!

With a recent arrival, I’ve now acquired a full set of Bainbridge’s published books (barring any contributions to other anthologies).  They actually make rather a daunting shelf full, and I’m finding it hard to decide where to dive in!

Here they are in published order of the fiction, then short stories, then the non-fiction. Maybe I should start at the beginning …

A Beryl Bibliography – part two

Following on from last week’s post highlighting Beryl’s earlier novels, here is a brief survey of her later novels and other works to help you choose which books, if any, you’d like to read if you join in with Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week in mid-June. Once more, clicking on a book title will take you to the most readily copies available on Amazon UK via my affiliate link, (they’ll return to the bottom of future posts).

We left the bibliography in Part One in the mid 1980s, after Beryl’s first historical novel proper, something she was to continue with great success in some of her later novels…

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Filthy Lucre(1946, pub 1986).  We start off part two though with a piece of Juvenalia written when she was a teenager.  Subtitled The tragedy of Ernest Ledwhistle and Richard Soleway: A story. I’ve not been able to find out anything about the plot, but have ordered a copy of this novella!

An Awfully Big Adventure(1989)  A third shortlisting for the Booker Prize.  Set in 1950 and following the rehearsals for a Christmas production of Peter Pan, this novel follows the coming of age of young Asst Stage Manager Stella, and her relationships with the director Meredith, and the actor playing Hook. A bittersweet tale of innocence and loss. It was made into a rather good movie with Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant (sadly only available on DVD at over-inflated prices).  I loved this book when I read it ages ago, and will re-read for BBRW.

The Birthday Boys(1991) Bainbridge tells the story of Scott’s final push to the South Pole. The five men each take a turn in telling the story, each putting their stamp on the narrative. Masterful – I loved it (review here).

Every Man For Himself(1996) Winner of the Whitbread Novel Prize, and Beryl’s fourth Booker shortlisting.  It tells the fateful story of the Titanic through the eyes of Morgan, a rich young man related to the ship’s owner.  In concentrating on the first class characters, it paints a portrait of an insular group with an impressive array of vices.

Master Georgie (1998) Gaining a final fifth Booker shortlisting, this novel won the posthumous Booker ‘Best of Beryl’. It follows the story of a Liverpudlian doctor who heads for the Crimea for some excitement. His story is narrated by three different voices of those associated with him: an orphan devoted to her Master Georgie; his scholarly brother-in-law; and a street urchin who becomes George’s lover.

According to Queeney(2001)  Beryl brings the last years of great wit Samuel Johnson to life as see through the eyes of Queeney, the first born daughter of his mistress. We meet many other famous names of the period and explore Johnson’s relationship with his friend and benefactor Mrs Thrale.

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress(2011) Beryl’s last novel returns to the late 1960s after Martin Luther King’s assassination. It follows the story of Rose and a man called Washington Harold who travel across the USA in search of a man called Dr Wheeler – each having a need to find him – one benign, one less so.

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Two collections of short stories are available. Mum and Mr. Armitage: Selected Stories from 1985 – a collection of twelve tales that tend to be unsettling in their conclusions; and Collected Storiesfrom 1994. Later editions of this include Filthy Lucre amongst other additions.

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And finally, briefly – on to Beryl’s non-fiction:

Apart from the odd inclusion in other anthologies, that’s it!  I’ve invested in a copies of everything above that I didn’t already have and as soon as they’ve all arrived, I tempt you further with a photo of my stack!

 

A Beryl Bibliography – part one

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.