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An Awfully Big Adventure [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Beryl Bainbridge , Paul McGann
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition 4.31  
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Book Description

Aug 2002
Told with black humour, this is the story of a group of no-hope rep actors in Liverpool in the mid 50s, doing Peter Pan. Stella, the heroine who is Tinkerbell, is a sad and lonely young woman who repeatedly calls the speaking clock for comfort.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Chivers Audio Books; Unabridged edition (Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0754055302
  • ISBN-13: 978-0754055303
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 18.5 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,819,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

*'Vintage bittersweet Bainbridge' MAIL ON SUNDAY *'Imagine Priestley's THE GOOD COMPANIONS as written by Gogol and you will have some idea of the mixture of waggish humour and sordid pathos in Bainbridge's novel' SUNDAY TIMES *'A subtle schizophrenic insight into adult relationships . Bainbridge's understated prose and obsessive eye for the smallest and most telling of details have never been better employed' TIME OUT --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Beryl Bainbridge is one of the greatest living novelists. Author of 17 novels, 2 travel books & 5 plays for stage & tv, she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 5 times & has won many literary awards including the Whitbread Prize & the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awfully Good 13 Nov 2003
By Mrs. A. C. Whiteley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Beryl Bainbridge is such a perfectionist that, according to a recent article in Mslexia, she is still trying to formulate the title of her present work in progress. Such consummate professionalism is clearly present in this mind-blowingly good novel.
Set in 1950, An Awfully Big Adventure chronicles the life of troubled Stella Bradshaw, an aspiring young actress making her first hesitant steps onto the professional stage. She rapidly becomes infatuated with Meridith, the company director, and, when he spurns her advances, she turns to O’Hara (stand-in for Hook in their production of Peter Pan), in an effort to make him jealous. This attempt badly misfires, however, as the quite brilliant ending proves (every bit as shocking in its way as that of Sixth Sense) and we are left to reflect on the perils of unrequited love, dark, powerful family secrets, and the crippling effect of war.
That Bainbridge achieves such multilayered depth in such a slim novel is nothing short of remarkable. An Awfully Big Adventure is beautifully crafted, tightly plotted – with absolutely no loose ends. She brings it to its awful denouement with devastating logic. And it is very subtly done: Bainbridge emphatically shows and studiously avoids telling. We are meant to infer her message from the drama of the narrative. She, as with other great novelists, allows the reader time and space to think – hence the exquisitely spare prose. I shall have to stop now, for fear of writing page after page of compliments. Suffice it to say, therefore, that An Awfully Big Adventure is wonderful in every way – character development, style and plot execution are all flawless. Truly, this is the perfect novel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a very fine well made bottle of champagne 22 Feb 2005
Format:Paperback
She writes beautifully and sparingly. You are straight into the story no messing about. The book is full of humour, skillfully drawn characters that you grasp within a few sentences but the narrative is always going somewhere. The clues are always there. The trick is not to get carried away and read it too fast. It ought to be savoured.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Working in rep in Liverpool in the early 1950s, Stella is a young girl, still in her teens, living with her Aunt Lily and Uncle Vernon, of whom she is sometimes callously ashamed. She has a tiny part in the play Bill of Divorcement and then goes on to make a success of a part in Anthony and Cleopatra as a young royal boy. The other characters are deftly described: "... there was nothing wrong with Dawn Allenby apart from her love of beauty, an affliction she was ill-equipped to fight." And: "Desmond Fairchild, a sadist in a trilby hat worn with the brim turned up all the way round like a vaudeville comic."

This novel sparks and flashes with humour at every turn, sometimes darkly, sometimes with the beautifully abrupt wit all her novels are known for: "Uncle Vernon had waited up for her. He'd wanted to escort her home but she had threatened to commit arson if he came within a quarter of a mile of the theatre. He'd kept her supper warm in a pot in the oven."

I can't recommend this book highly enough - just splendid. Though it's not quite a laugh a minute, and there are some very sad secrets, one in particular that is never properly brought out, but which caused me some puzzlement until I worked it out. Beryl Bainbridge died in 2010, but there will probably never be a better writer to lose out on the Booker Prize. I would particularly recommend a somewhat more serious book of hers, The Birthday Boys, which is about Scott's attempt to reach the North Pole, but anything she wrote is well worth reading - she never wrote a duff book.
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By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The Good Companions is a lovely, warm, fuzzy, well written book (a favourite of mine) about the trials, tribulations, triumphs and tragedies of a small travelling music hall company in the 1920s

Jump forwards 30 years to the setting of Bainbridge's book about the trials, tribulations, triumphs (very few) and tragedies (quite a lot) of a Liverpool repertory company. Originally published in 1989, Bainbridge draws upon some of her own experiences as an actor around that time.

Gone is Priestley's enjoyable, rather sentimental approach. Instead, we have a blackly, bleakly funny and unholy mixture of sex, love, death and religion, all wrapped up in an atmosphere of lower middle-class prurience and and things which are not quite nice and musn't be mentioned (Orton's territory)

This is the story of Stella, an awkward, difficult, naive and impressionable mid-teens. She is also adept at wearing a don't tangle with me mask, making her appear much more hard-boiled and insensitive than she really is. Strings are pulled to get her a job as an ASM in the rep company, as her imaginative, rather histrionic abilities at play-acting her way through her life, suggest to those around her that she may have a theatrical gift.

Bainbridge structures her book beautifully, setting something up at the start, which is only finally revealed at the end, when she collapses, one by one, her house of cards, with a selection of hinted at revelations which are simultaneously as bleak, horribly funny, and shocking as Orton.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The humour is gentle but funny.
Seems rather dated now and one cannot imagine a young person being so ingenious these days .I am sure that if you were familiar with Liverpool there would be an extra interest. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Anne Farmer
3.0 out of 5 stars An awfully big adventure
I found it hard to get into but found it cleverly written.As I used to live in Liverpool it had a special relevance.
Published 11 months ago by hawthorn
3.0 out of 5 stars Youth and Ambition
On the whole a very slow moving story. I found it a very disturbing book and wondered how much of it was due to experiences of the author
Published 18 months ago by Joyce Richmond
4.0 out of 5 stars A 1950's provincial repertory company through the eyes of a naive...
The company of a 1950's Liverpool repertory company with its huge mix of egoes provides Bainbridge with a perfect vehicle for her brilliant descriptive powers. Read more
Published on 30 May 2011 by Mr. J. Collins
3.0 out of 5 stars An Awfully Big Adventure by Beryl Bainbridge
It seemed very dated and slow to start but as it was written in the style of the period then I suppose this was to be expected. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2010 by Fiona McPhee
5.0 out of 5 stars stella
Set in the threadbare background of a Liverpool theatre shortly after the war, this is an unusual coming of age tale where Stella tries to find her own way in the world. Read more
Published on 9 May 2010 by Mr. W. B. Clews
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging but ultimately unconvincing
There are some parts of this book that you cannot help but enjoy: the lack of glamour in the running of a provincial theatre where the cast complain about "the digs" and are... Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2008 by Caterkiller
3.0 out of 5 stars Over-written and often unpleasant
Bainbridge is an impressive writer, but so far from having a spare prose style, she has a tendency to over-write, for example: 'when the taxi, girdled by pigeons, swooshed from the... Read more
Published on 14 July 2006 by Reptile
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