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Every Man For Himself [Paperback]

Beryl Bainbridge
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Sep 2002
For the four fraught, mysterious days of her doomed maiden voyage in 1912, the Titanic sails towards New York, glittering with luxury, freighted with millionaires and hopefuls. In her labyrinthine passageways are played out the last, secret hours of a small group of passengers, their fate sealed in prose of startling, sublime beauty, as Beryl Bainbridge's haunting masterpiece moves inexorably to its known and terrible end.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349108706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349108704
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 313,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

After taking on the ill-fated Scott expedition to the South Pole in her previous book, The Birthday Boys, the novelist tackles a much larger 1912 disaster: the sinking of the Titanic. The narrator, a 22-year-old named Morgan, brushes up against real-life victims such as John James Astor early in the voyage, while falling in love with the beautiful and unobtainable Wallis Ellery. The deadly maiden voyage of the world's largest ocean liner becomes a journey of self-discovery in this portentous, postmodern work, short-listed for the 1996 Booker Prize.


Extraordinary... a wholly new and highly individual work of art... beautifully written (INDEPENDENT)

Marvellous... exquisite pacing... stunning descriptions (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

A narrative both sparkling and deep... the cost of raising [the Titanic] is prohibitive; Bainbridge does the next best thing (SUNDAY TIMES)

Bainbridge's masterpiece (EVENING STANDARD)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Phoebus
Whilst I would only give five stars to a handfull of books that I've ever read, this one merits it.

About the Titanic with an ending that could never fail to surprise, it was a riveting read. Bainbridge got beneath the skin of the characters and one felt more present at the scene than watching any film. The remarkable thing about reading it, though, was how it reminded me of Oscar Wilde's works. There really is a quotation to take from every page.
As Hilary Mantel said in the Sunday Times " ... the cost of raising the Titanic is prohibitive: Bainbridge does the next best thing." And it's true! I'm not on commission, I just love the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first class tale of icy disaster 11 April 2008
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
This novel is a masterpiece, and infinitely more rewarding than the film 'Titanic' with which it shares its subject matter. The fateful voyage is seen through the eyes of Morgan, a rich, young man related to the owner of the shipping line. Concentrating mainly on the first class passengers, to which set Morgan belongs, it paints a portrait of an insular group with an impressive array of vices. The title of the novel says it all - "Every man for himself" - and there is plenty of selfishness, silliness and snobbery on display here. However Morgan himself is basically a decent young chap, and does his best to look out for his friends as the disaster unfolds its course; will he manage to save himself too? This is not a long novel, nor does it need to be, as every word has its place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as always 16 Mar 2006
Since you know what's going to happen to the Titanic it seems like madness to write a novel with this sort of backdrop. But Bainbridge is such a clever accomplished writer that she turns this inevitability very distinctly to her advantage. The story is magnetically dragged to it's conclusion by the ships date with destiny and along the way Bainbridge stimulates with writing that is perfection and characters that intrigue.
The pithy insights, the black humour and the spare but accurate descriptions fill her 'tardis' like writing. Bainbridge manages to convey in one sentence what it takes other writers several pages to achieve.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but well worth reading. 31 Dec 1998
By A Customer
I found this book quite hard to get into - the characters were difficult to get to know and it has an odd structure because every reader will know what happens to the Titanic, so the end is hardly a surprise. However, once I got about half way into it I was totally engrossed. I just felt so shocked that these characters were going to be involved in such a horrible tragedy - the way Bainbridge paces the book towards its conclusion is really clever. It has all the subtlety and humanity that the film Titanic lacked, and without the mawkish sentimentality.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scathing indictment of the class system 1 Oct 2007
Wonderful book, but don't go expecting a novel about the Titanic. Yes, of course the Titanic features, but it's there as a plot device to expose the attitudes and insecurities of the upper class on board. Just as the iceberg rips through the underside of the ship, so it also rips though the underbelly of society, and for the main character at least the sinking literally washes away the chains of his past. It's all here - repressed sex, unrepressed sex, class divides, the insecurities of the privileged who have never had to work for anything. A satisfying streak of black humour runs through it all too. It's not perfect - the characters of Melchett and Van Hopper for example are pretty interchangeable (maybe that's the point?), but the plot rattles along nicely, without any wasted passages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping new treatment of a dramatic subject. 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer
I've read many books about the Titanic, seen all the films, but this is a really lovely treatment of the subject. Morgan is the sensitive young man Bainbridge follows round the ill-fated ship. He is full of woes and desires that have nothing to do with the tragedy that will soon bear down upon him. The same applies to all the colourful and vibrant characters we are introduced to. We should know their deaths are coming, but are shocked and appalled nevertheless when one by one we learn of their fate. I also love Bainbridge's way with language. Every so often she gives a word a new meaning by using it in an unusual context that seems perfect. Because it is so accessible, it is all to easy to miss the poetry within her prose.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A sinking feeling in the first half, but...... 6 July 1999
By A Customer
I found the early chapters of this book dull. I could not see the point of yet another book about that damn boat and was irritated by the author's apparent obsession with trivial boring toffs. This short novel is even padded out with lists of names of these dull people, even though most have no relevance to the rest of the book. BUT gradually Bainbridge drew me in, made me care more and long before the end I was engrossed. After I had finished I even cruised the Net for more biographical information on some of the real-life characters she had brought back to life with her beautiful prose. Her style of writing is easy to read and the book has many striking images. Even for a Titanicophobe like me who would support a ban on books and films on this overworked subject for the next millenium, it was an intersting and fairly enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every Man For Himself 19 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This short, almost restrained, novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Prize when published in 1996. It tells the story of Morgan, a relative of J.P. Morgan, who feels, "destined to be a participant rather than a spectator of singular events". When a man dies in his arms shortly before he is to return to the States, he leaves his uncle's house almost secretly (a stolen picture of his mother tucked away) and gets the milk train to Southampton. For the young man is surely about to participate in a major world event by boarding Titanic on her maiden voyage.

Although we are soon aware that Morgan is not quite the same as his upper class friends, he fits seamlessly into first class. His family background is slightly troubled, unknown, but then other passengers have their secrets too. What is interesting about this novel is the way Bainbridge shows how all these people are almost trapped together - a large, unhappy family. They travel to the same places, went to the same schools, shared social lives and even mistresses. The novel cleverly tells the story of life aboard, with all the little intrigues, love affairs and gossip. The author uses many real life characters - Lady Duff Gordon, Thomas Andrews, Bruce Ismay and Astor populate the pages, but as we know what is coming that overshadows everything that happens. This really is a clever read, which recreates life on board and the pressure these young men were under when calamity happened to be brave and not get in a 'funk'; when to be a man was to feel shame at surviving.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Bright young things on the Titanic
I finished this, my third historical novel - one which received much praise from the critics - in quite a short period. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Minijax
5.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a lost era
A wonderful book giving us a picture of the lives of a group of rich young men in their world where everyone knew or knew of everyone else. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Alison Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I've been meaning to read this for years now,and it has not disappointed in any way. Great story,well written,woven round well known facts about actual events that don't over... Read more
Published 15 months ago by fraser mcinnes
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly written
A view into the upper class world. The author is great at weaving lives. I've read The Bottle Factory Outing and The Birthday Boys and prefered them.
Published 15 months ago by Pippa Sidney-Woollett
4.0 out of 5 stars Every Man for himself.
I enjoyed the story and got involved with the characters but it ended too soon, I wanted to know a bit more
Published 16 months ago by Lizzibizz
4.0 out of 5 stars Although a horrible event, well written and understated to advantage
This is an event much written about but Beryl Bainbridge brings the characters to life in her own inimitable way so that we feel their terror and their heartache fully and... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Liz
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't float my boat.....
I was hesitant to read this book, as I hate knowing the outcome of a story, so knowing the inevitable sinking of the Titanic, I didn't feel as enthusiastic and open-minded as I... Read more
Published on 2 Sep 2012 by BlueHippo
4.0 out of 5 stars Beryl Bainbridge Brings The Titanic To Life
`Every Man for Himself', to summarise succinctly, is the tale of a young american man Morgan and the four fateful days that he sails on the Titanic. Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2012 by Simon Savidge Reads
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping version
I am a little obsessed with the Titanic disaster and only recently discovered this book which I found very readable from the off and gripping right through to it's inevitable... Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2012 by ba Francis
3.0 out of 5 stars Brings nothing new to the party...
This book starts with a major handicap. Two, actually. The first is that you already know how it will end. It's about the voyage of the Titanic, so of course you know. Read more
Published on 11 Oct 2010 by bloodsimple
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