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Winter Garden [Kindle Edition]

Beryl Bainbridge
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £4.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

Quiet and reliable, Douglas Ashburner has never been much of a womaniser. So when he begins an extra-marital affair with Nina, a bossy, temperamental artist with a penchant for risky sex, he finds adultery a terrible strain.



He tells his wife that he needs a rest, so she happily packs him off for a fishing holiday in the Highlands. Only, unknown to her, Douglas is actually flying off to Moscow with Nina, as a guest of the Soviet Artists' Union. It is then that things begin to get very complicated indeed...


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Review

'Brilliant ... marvellous comedy ... a tour de force' OBSERVER 'A very funny as well as a frightening book' GUARDIAN 'Marvellously deft ... comedy is secreted everywhere, like honey; but it is a surreal little honeycomb, with sharp teeth' TLS

Book Description

* An hilarious comedy of adultery.

* 'Razor sharp ... Bainbridge takes special pleasure in human unpredictability. She shows that people are hardly ever what they appear' NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 389 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (26 Aug. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049MPH6M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #427,375 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining and Undemanding Read 8 April 2014
By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Beryl Bainbridge's 'Winter Garden' focuses on Douglas Ashburner, a seemingly reliable and respectable lawyer, married to his wife for twenty-six years. But Douglas is not quite as reliable, or as predictable as others might think, for he is having an extra-marital affair with the lovely Nina, a rather capricious artist who causes Douglas to suffer from a number of sleepless nights. When Nina asks Douglas to join her on a trip to Moscow, where she has been invited as a guest of the Soviet Artists' Union, Douglas agrees, but tells his wife he is going fishing in Scotland. However, no sooner has he made the decision to go, then Douglas almost wishes something would happen to prevent him going and when he arrives at the airport, having surrendered his luggage and all of fishing paraphernalia, and meets Nina's artist friends, Bernard and Enid, Douglas begins to wonder whether he is doing the right thing - especially when he learns that Bernard is a minor celebrity who, on his first appearance on television, called the interviewer a pr*ck for confusing an etching with an engraving. When he arrives in Moscow, Douglas's misgivings increase even further when his suitcase goes missing, and he becomes terrified that instead of being reunited with his luggage in Russia, his suitcase will be returned home to his wife. A missing suitcase, however, is not all that Douglas has to worry about, because very soon Nina also goes missing, but I shall say no more as this is a very slim novel and I should like to leave the rest of Douglas's Russian adventure for prospective readers to discover for themselves.

'Winter Garden' is, like many of Beryl Bainbridge's novels, a darkly amusing tale written by an author whose has a sharp and very perceptive eye.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a comic masterpiece 17 Jan. 2001
Format:Paperback
Beryl Bainbridge takes a caste of her characteristic grotesque-mundane characters to Soviet Russia with all their compulsions, banalities and neurotic tics, bag and baggage, transporting them to a world of bureaucracy and incomprehensible muddle in which the unaccountable is the normal. Bainbridge plays the full gamut of her comic tricks with her displaced persons, especially the helpless Ashburner who doesn't know why he's there, what he's doing, where his mistress or his luggage are and why his only possession is his fishing rod, which he took along to convince his wife (who couldn't give a bean anyway) that he was going for a piscatory holiday in Scotland. Style is superb, full of comic deflations and bathos, sharp arabesques, swoops and dives of pitch, in which the 'little people' engrossed in their own obsessive concerns negotiate terra incognita. Told with a knowing terse naivete typical of earlier Bainbridge. The central symbol of the Winter Garden refers to the bare patch of earth in Ashburner's back garden, never reached by sun, and icy Mother Russia. Displacement is a metaphor for all Bainbridge's people, who move through a demonic dream in which both anxiety and comic tension build, crazily lurching to a predestined conclusion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mr Pooter Meets Mother Russia 20 May 2014
By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This was my first Beryl Bainbridge novel, and I've been assured it wasn't a good one to begin with, and that I should give her another try - I didn't enjoy it all that much. The novel depicts a rather dull, middle-class solicitor who ends up in an increasingly dangerous and out of control situation abroad. Douglas Ashburner has led a very respectable life, until he falls in love with femme fatale artist Nina, and agrees to accompany her on a trip with a group of artists to Soviet Russia. (Douglas and Nina are both married, so have to come up with some intricate lies to do this.) Things begin to go wrong from the first day when Douglas's suitcase mysteriously vanishes. Then Nina disappears, and Douglas is stuck touring Moscow, St Petersburg (then Leningrad) and Tblisi with two irascible artists, Bernard and Enid, and Olga, the eccentric tour guide who keeps suggesting that Ashburner is eyeing up Russian women that they meet. Worse is to come as not only does Nina not show up, but Ashburner himself begins to feel increasingly unwell...

Bainbridge writes beautifully and wittily about Communist Russia (particularly good descriptions include the alcoholic dinner at an artist's dacha and the trip to Stalin's birthplace) and in Bernard (rude and blunt but also deeply committed to his art) and the motherly Enid she has created two vivid characters. The Russian characters are also memorable and good fun. There was also lots of sly humour (as when Ashburner hears the 'clash of steel' of Pushkin's ghost fighting a duel, and Bernard reminds him that they fought with pistols). My problem was that I hated Ashburner and Nina.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A FRIGHTFUL LOAD OF OLD TOSH 30 Aug. 2008
By Barry McCanna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I began reading this with high hopes, based on the extracts of reviews on the back cover which proclaimed "razor sharp", "very funny" and "marvellously deft", but my expectations were soon dashed. The scenario is promising and in the right hands could have been hilarious, but that is not how it pans out. There is virtually no background, and the characters are inadequately described for us to work up much enthusiasm about what happens to them. In fact the author's approach is quite undisciplined, as if it's too much trouble to set the thing down properly. There is no sense of tension or narrative thread, the plot (for want of a better expression) meanders about and loses itself, and turning the page becomes a chore. It was a blessed relief when the mass of loose ends finally overcame their creator, whose joy at producing the inconsequential end could not have surpassed my own at reaching it.

Just as a footnote, the book seems to lack careful editing and proof-reading. On page 5 the hero (sic) remembers his wife singing "The sun has put his hat on", which makes you wonder what parallel universe he (or rather the author) inhabits. On page 42 "Nina advised againt", on page 74 "He said deferntially...." and on page 152 "...strutting up and down in plimsols..." But maybe the people at Abacus couldn't be bothered either.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wickedly Clever 4 Aug. 2001
By taking a rest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
�Winter Garden�, by Ms. Beryl Bainbridge is both an earlier work, and one of her novels I have most enjoyed. Best known for the historically based fiction she has been writing as of late, this work while taking part in a referenced period of recent history is not predicated on a given event.
This is a tale of deception and misdirection from the opening page. A group is making a trip to Brezhnev�s Russia. The core is a group of artists who ostensibly are going to travel and meet with their peers in The Soviet Union. Guests are allowed and one is an Admiralty Lawyer who takes the trip to share the company of Nina, and not to Scotland to fish, as he would like those he has left behind to believe. All is well until they board their flight and trifles like seating arrangements emerge as problems. From this point on nothing is as it seems, and the truth is not revealed until presented literally in the closing sentences.
Between the first and final page Ms. Bainbridge assembles a plot worthy of the great Hitchcock himself. In some of her books the Author does not always immediately bring the interest of the reader to a high pitch. She does however keep the reader interested enough, so that as she proceeds bits and pieces are brought to notice, and the more carefully they are noted the faster the trapdoor she drops you through at the end is reached. However this is not to suggest that the fall you finally take is the only one you stand upon. Ms. Bainbridge is brilliant at letting you believe the obvious only to have it dashed as meaningless the solutions you anticipate.
I have read and commented upon most of this Author�s work, and while not all are perfect, none disappoint, and all should appeal to a very wide audience.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A FRIGHTFUL LOAD OF OLD TOSH 3 Sept. 2008
By Barry McCanna - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I began reading this with high hopes, based on the extracts of reviews on the back cover which proclaimed "razor sharp", "very funny" and "marvellously deft", but my expectations were soon dashed. The scenario is promising and in the right hands could have been hilarious, but that is not how it pans out. There is virtually no background, and the characters are inadequately described for us to work up much enthusiasm about what happens to them. In fact the author's approach is quite undisciplined, as if it's too much trouble to set the thing down properly. There is no sense of tension or narrative thread, the plot (for want of a better expression) meanders about and loses itself, and turning the page becomes a chore. It was a blessed relief when the mass of loose ends finally overcame their creator, whose joy at producing the inconsequential end could not have surpassed my own at reaching it.

Just as a footnote, the book seems to lack careful editing and proof-reading. On page 5 the hero (sic) remembers his wife singing "The sun has put his hat on", which makes you wonder what parallel universe he (or rather the author) inhabits. On page 42 "Nina advised againt", on page 74 "He said deferntially...." and on page 152 "...strutting up and down in plimsols..." But maybe the people at Abacus couldn't be bothered either.
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