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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There really is a quotation to take from every page
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...
Published on 7 Jan 2004 by Phoebus

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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......
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,...
Published on 6 July 1999


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There really is a quotation to take from every page, 7 Jan 2004
This review is from: Every Man for Himself (Paperback)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but well worth reading., 31 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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 A gripping new treatment of a dramatic subject., 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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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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 "gaskella2" (Nr Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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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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
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 100 metre sprinter of the literary world, 16 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
Beryl Bainbridge has invented her own writing style - no one else writes with such wit and acuity or with such brevity, which is her watchword. Her elliptical style has an astringency and abruptness (as if she's saying sharply, "Wake up at the back there! I'm not going over this twice!") that makes her unique - if you didn't look at the cover you would still know you were reading a Beryl Bainbridge novel.

At her best she can't be beaten and with this novel we see her emphatically at her best (I would be hard-put to choose an all-time favourite between this and her novel about the Scott voyage to the North Pole, The Birthday Boys).

Tackling the sinking of the Titanic, Bainbridge doesn't hang about - it's more like an extremely bracing march to the park than a voyage across the Atlantic, and perhaps this can be said to be a fault - Beryl, if you're listening, take a breather now and again, please? Characters? Zap, zap, zap. Period detail likewise, and then she might linger over some tiny inconsequentiality (or is it?) while the story rattles along and the characters deepen (keep up at the back there!).

Then, before you know it, it's the denouement and shut the book. One is left gasping, applauding, longing for more, but Beryl's off to her next appointment, or just to dust the buffalo in the hall. The thrill of it is in the particulars - Every Man For Himself is about the sinking of the Titanic, Master Georgie is about the Boer War, An Awfully Big Adventure is about repertory theatre c. 1955. Beryl wears her learning very lightly, but there is perfect period detail, and perfect characterisation, wherever she decides to shine her light. She's been shortlisted for various prizes (three times for the Booker) and won the Whitbread twice and the Guardian Fiction prize once. She will go on winning prizes or getting shortlisted for them for as long as she writes because her pen is an instrument of true engagement, her characters live and her pace is unbeatable. She's the 100 metre sprinter of the literary world.

Sadly, as was reported on Radio 4 last year, Beryl has been unable to write since she gave up smoking. One hesitates to suggest she takes it up again if her health is at risk, but what a loss for readers if she doesn't!
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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
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brings nothing new to the party..., 11 Oct 2010
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Every Man For Himself (Paperback)
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. The second is that the film has already covered the separation of the social classes. It's hard to know what Bainbridge can provide that we do not already have. I know she published this before the film, but we're reading it right now.

Undoubtedly, she has done her homework and, unlike many modern authors, manages to shoehorn her research into the book without having constant departures for feeble revision note-style ranting. Kudos for that - I'm fed up of authors who have Googled for a week, and feel obliged to abandon fiction in favour of a couple of pages of factual information. In particular, Bainbridge's presentation of the lack of hurry and concern when the iceberg arrives, is well done.

However, beyond this, the book is less successful. The novel is not particularly evocative of either place or time. Many of the characters are cartoonish and not drawn with sufficient depth. Too many sound and feel like Bertie Wooster, or some other Wodehouse character. The sharp distinction between social classes is somewhat clumsily presented. The reader has too little invested with the characters to care unduly when the ending comes.

Ultimately, this is a brisk and fairly ordinary run through a well-known event. It is hard to see what is unusually enlightening or surprising, and therefore hard to know what Bainbridge thought she was giving to the reader by writing it.
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Every Man For Himself
Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (Paperback - 5 Sep 2002)
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