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All Day Saturday Paperback – 18 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (18 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571242707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571242702
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,866,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Colin MacInnes

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Format: Paperback
Like "June in Her Spring" published fourteen years earlier, "All Day Saturday", is set in Australia, the country where Colin MacInnes spent much of his youth. Indeed, the two books are not just set in the same country, but during the same period (the 1920s), in the same rural district of Victoria and among the same social milieu, the "squattocracy" or Australia's own landed gentry of wealthy farmers and ranchers.

It is a hot summer Saturday and Mrs Helen Bailey, the wife of a wealthy sheep-farmer, is giving a party. Mrs Bailey is attractive woman in her late thirties, but her marriage is not a happy one. Her husband, Walter, has much in common with Nathan Westley in" June in Her Spring"; both men are withdrawn, melancholy and taciturn, haunted by suicidal thoughts. Unlike the Westleys who have two children, however, the Baileys are childless. Lacking any affection from her husband, Helen has taken to flirting (although not actually conducting affairs) with other men and has acquired the reputation of the "femme fatale" of the district.

The title reflects the fact that this is one of those novels, like Joyce's "Ulysses" or Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano", where the whole of the action takes place during a single day- in this case the day of Helen's party. The book charts the relationships between the Baileys and their various guests. A key figure is Norman Culley, an ambitious young man on the make, good-looking but arrogant and socially awkward, with a gift for alienating people. Despite his difficult, prickly character, Helen has fallen passionately in love with Norman and this passion will prove to be an important driving force in the plot.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Anyone for Menace? 6 Aug. 2013
By J C E Hitchcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Like "June in Her Spring" published fourteen years earlier, "All Day Saturday", is set in Australia, the country where Colin MacInnes spent much of his youth. Indeed, the two books are not just set in the same country, but during the same period (the 1920s), in the same rural district of Victoria and among the same social milieu, the "squattocracy" or Australia's own landed gentry of wealthy farmers and ranchers.

It is a hot summer Saturday and Mrs Helen Bailey, the wife of a wealthy sheep-farmer, is giving a party. Mrs Bailey is attractive woman in her late thirties, but her marriage is not a happy one. Her husband, Walter, has much in common with Nathan Westley in" June in Her Spring"; both men are withdrawn, melancholy and taciturn, haunted by suicidal thoughts. Unlike the Westleys who have two children, however, the Baileys are childless. Lacking any affection from her husband, Helen has taken to flirting (although not actually conducting affairs) with other men and has acquired the reputation of the "femme fatale" of the district.

The title reflects the fact that this is one of those novels, like Joyce's "Ulysses" or Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano", where the whole of the action takes place during a single day- in this case the day of Helen's party. The book charts the relationships between the Baileys and their various guests. A key figure is Norman Culley, an ambitious young man on the make, good-looking but arrogant and socially awkward, with a gift for alienating people. Despite his difficult, prickly character, Helen has fallen passionately in love with Norman and this passion will prove to be an important driving force in the plot. Other guests at the party include Helen's two young female protégées, Maureen and Nancy, Julius Macnamara, a middle-aged bachelor squatter on the lookout for a wife, and J.G. Eaton and Tommy Mulligan, two young engineers working at the nearby radio installation. (The huge radio mast, part of the "All Red Route" intended to span the British Empire, will play an important part in the novel's denouement).

The book may have the same geographical and social setting as "June in Her Spring", but it is in many ways different in tone. The earlier novel was described by MacInnes's biographer Tony Gould as a lyrical romance with more than a touch of Grand Guignol about it. There is none of the obsession with heredity and genetic determinism which characterises "June in Her Spring", an obsession which I found one of the main weaknesses of that book. "All Day Saturday" more closely resembles a drawing-room comedy with a touch of menace about it; tragedy threatens to intrude into the characters' lives but is at the end averted.

Shift the setting from Australia to the Home Counties, find a local equivalent for the radio mast, and this could almost be a play by Noel Coward or one of his contemporaries, and not just because of the young people's fondness for tennis and other outdoor pursuits. (The expression "Anyone for tennis?" became something of a cliché of drawing-room comedy). The novel's tautness and its observation of the Classical unities of time, place and action gives it something of the structure of a stage-play. There is a very Cowardian analysis of social distinctions; Australians may pride themselves on having escaped from the British class-system, but the characters in this book seem to have invented some fine distinctions of their own. Also reminiscent of Coward is the serio-comic treatment of emotions. Helen's grand passion for the much younger Norman nearly ends tragically, yet there is also something ridiculous about it, as there is about Macnamara's lustful pursuit of girls young enough to be his daughters and about Nancy's brazen and shameless opportunism in matters of the heart.

"All Day Saturday" is in some ways a rather conventional novel; it lacks the striking originality, for example, of MacInnes's masterpiece, "Absolute Beginners", or for that matter of the other two episodes of the "London trilogy", "City of Spades" and "Mr Love and Justice". The author, however, handles his material well and produces detailed and convincing portraits of his individual characters, of the Baileys' failing marriage and of the society to which they all belong. His gifts of social observation were clearly not confined to British youth culture or to the seamy side of London life in the fifties but could also be applied to a very different society on the opposite side of the globe. This is a highly readable portrait of Australian rural society between the wars.
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