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The Bottle Factory Outing [Hardcover]

Beryl Bainbridge
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 1975
Freda and Brenda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine-bottling factory. A work outing offers promise for Freda and terror from Brenda; passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing never returns to normal. Beryl Bainbridge will dazzle readers in this offbeat, haunting yet hilarious novel.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 219 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller; 1st Edition edition (Jan 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807607819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807607817
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 13.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,839,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'an outrageously funny and horrifying story' Graham Greene (Observer) 'After turning the final page of The Bottle Factory Outing, one can only gasp, and grope for the right word...Such an atmosphere of impending doom has not been created since Brighton Rock - except that Beryl Bainbridge is mercilessly comic instead of being mercilessly vicious. Specialising in successive denouements, and with her gift for collecting the most amazing detail, she is so in control of her marvellous little story that one hangs on her words from first to last. What originality, what pleasure.' Ronald Blythe (Sunday Times)" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

* This wonderful novel showing Beryl Bainbridge at her darkly comic best - out for the first time as an Abacus paperback --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BOTTLING OUT 14 Oct 2008
Whatever this story might be thought to lack, it's not originality. Bottling wine out of imported casks and labelling the bottles in an Italian-owned plant in London is presumably a mechanised operation these days. However time was when people did these jobs, and they were real people with real hearts and souls like the rest of us.

These are `small' people with `small' lives. The hopes and aspirations of the two leading characters are small. Neither they nor anyone else in the story mean any harm to anyone, and nobody does anything particularly `wrong'. Death touches one of the little group on their little works outing to Windsor in the rain, and the thing that makes the whole tale so terribly sad is that they can all get away with their grotesque obsequies for her - nobody else will ever know she is dead.

How easy you will find the book to read I can't say. By the standards of modern novels it is short, the style of writing is the opposite of flamboyant or elaborate, and you may have to keep reminding yourself who is who until you are well into the plot. The characters are differentiated well enough, I suppose, but what they all do say and think is within a very restricted range, and that just goes with the territory.

I found it, genuinely, deeply touching. Death the great leveller is cheated of his levelling at least to the extent that his victim's send-off is unusual in the extreme. If the rest of them can hold their tongues nobody will learn of her death because more or less nobody else knew she was alive. How many leave our society unnoticed, I wonder, without either such a unique funeral or such a gifted narrator to bring us their story.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legs 19 Nov 2002
By taking a rest HALL OF FAME
A wrist rolls the ruby red liquid of the fermented grape, and then pauses, and the glass is watched. For wine does not indiscriminately settle in a glass like lesser liquids. It falls in lines, and by these lines the spirit is partially judged, its legs are appraised.

I have read enough of Ms. Beryl Bainbridge's writing to state comfortably that there is probably no topic that she cannot spin a great tale from. "The Bottle Factory Outing", is above all else about people, which is in keeping with the author's previous work. The primary characters are two women that while they share the same bed, with an impenetrable wall of pillows between them, could not be more different. One is passive, almost a victim, desiring more not to upset her day-to-day existence than to stand up for herself. The other is a warrior defending not only what she perceives as her territory, but any turf that may catch her eye as well. The former may be an unsure individual; however she does not delude herself. The latter has confidence that causes her to believe that which she wants despite any reality she witnesses.

The book is unique as it has more than one instance when the story could reasonably end. The story is in no way overextended, just marvelously structured. The event of course is the employee outing and all that takes place from the early morning start, to a surrealistic second act, and finally the disturbing close of the third. Personalities that have become familiar do not conduct themselves in keeping with the book's start. Honor, which is repeatedly called upon to justify, draw or inflict guilt, becomes many things other than an honorable trait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awkward, very awkward ... 5 Sep 2013
By taiaha
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Beryl Bainbridge's work. She has to be one of the most economical writers ever, and seems to be able to use less words than any other author I know to describe complex situations and characters.
Once again, she has produced a relatively short novel involving a set of circumstances that would appear to be mundane and ordinary, but that turn into a tragi-comedy. Everything is awkward in this book - the relationship between the two main characters, Brenda & Freda, their working life and culture clashes with their Italian male colleagues, the workforce's subservience to their boss, their work itself, and, of course, the works outing ...
I felt awkward and uncomfortable reading this book, which, I assume, is exactly the feeling that the author wanted me to have. Therein lies her genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like the curate's egg - good in parts 5 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved Beryl Bainbridge's writing style, but found some of her characters just too silly and unbelievable. And the end of the story, which of course I will keep quiet about it, was infuriatingly annoying. Having said that there are some gems: the picnic scene, the incident in the woods.....but it's not a book I would put on my list of top 100.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightfully humorous 28 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beryl Bainbridge uses the smallest details to provide a whole biography of characters. It is set in a time when there was comfort in "knowing one's place" for some, despite ripples of discontent on the surface. The black humour - the inevitable laugh she extorts from the reader, whilst reading the unbelievable and unacceptable - is part of what makes this a book that can't be put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They probably should have stayed at home 15 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
“The Bottle Factory Outing” is a misleadingly jolly title for what is, for the most part, a very dark book. The lead characters are two women who share a bedsit and work at an Italian wine bottling plant. Both women are a bit odd and both carry vast amounts of emotional baggage. One is afraid to say what she thinks while the other is the complete opposite and I didn’t like either of them. Freda, the bossy one, organises an outing for the factory workers and to say that it doesn’t go at all well would be a huge understatement.
I have read other novels and stories by Beryl Bainbridge and so I am familiar with her “gritty” style but even by her standards, this is grim. It is, of course, fantastically well written and every bit as evocative as you would expect; as I read, I could see every detail of Brenda and Freda’s dreadful bed-sitting room, the drab factory environment where they worked and had I been in Windsor Great Park 40+ years ago, I am sure I could have located the exact spot where the picnic took place. However, I thought the plot was a bit thin and, in places, nothing short of ludicrous. Also, I found the characters difficult in this particular book. A lot of them were the sort of caricatures that Dickens would have been proud of (I don’t imagine our Beryl made any new fans among Irish or Italian people with this book) and none of them have any redeeming features at all. I was also disappointed by the ending; the story just sort of fizzled out. So this is, for my personal taste, a bit too depressing but it is a wonderful period piece all the same.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A Bainbridge too far
A novel of the mundane. The issue is that when you write about mundane lives you need to be brilliant to avoid mundanely writing a mundane novel. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Officer Dibble
2.0 out of 5 stars Bit slow
My first Beryl Bainbridge book and probably my last. Couldn't get into the characters and ended up skipping loads of pages. Which just goes to show, you can't please everybody!
Published 2 months ago by Madge
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected more
There's something that just does not work for me in this book. First of all the characters just don't seem believable, no where would you find a set of people who not one of them... Read more
Published 7 months ago by KathB France
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read.
A story about a wine bottling plant staff outing to Windsor where bizarre and funny incidents happen. Read more
Published 7 months ago by K. Slater
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter Rubbish
This is the first of Beryl Bainbridge I have attempted to read and it will certainly be the last. I thought it was utter rubbish - I didn't manage to finish it as I found it so... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Butterfly
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
I read this on holiday as it was recommended by a friend. So glad I did. Really enjoyed everything about this book. I read it in two sittings, compulsive reading.
Published 11 months ago by K. Dance
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
book club very disappointed in this book, not a laugh a page as said. Characters we felt were very muddled, although very much of its time. Read more
Published 12 months ago by diana clements
3.0 out of 5 stars refreshing story with an unusual topic
this book makes a nice change from the usual crime, history or war stories. Its observant and amusing, if not a bit unlikely
Published 13 months ago by Odette Griffiths
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bottle Factory Outing
Freda and Brenda share a bedsit and work in a factory that bottles imported wines. Most of the other workers are Italian. Read more
Published 14 months ago by GeordieReader
5.0 out of 5 stars B.B. does it again!
I am a huge fan of Beryl Bainbridge and am building my collection. She writes about real people living ordinary lives in an extraordinary way. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Louise Saines
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