- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 4 hours and 40 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: AudioGO Ltd.
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 25 Sept. 2008
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002SPZQQS
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An Awfully Big Adventure
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The title refers to the first year or so (?) that Stella Bradshaw, an aspiring actress spends with a Liverpool repertory company in the immediate aftermath of WW2 . Read morePublished 4 months ago by talmine
I can't review this book because I bought it for a friend for her book club . SorryPublished 4 months ago by Mrs S Morland
The book was in v good condition. Both funny and tragic, it follows Stella into the seedy theatrical world in Liverpool some time after WW11. Read morePublished 4 months ago by skinny
This understated novel might not have much relevance for readers who have no recollection of the dreary atmosphere of Britain in the years following the second world war, but for... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Phil O'Sofa
Stella lives with her aunt and uncle who find a role for her in the local repertory theatre in the 1950s. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Anne
An Awfully Big Adventure is set in 1950s Liverpool, a landscape still filled with rations and other post-war deprivations and the theatre. Read morePublished 12 months ago by C. Bannister
Bainbridge at her best. Funny, sad, a young woman's introduction to life, its ordeals, pretentions, betrayals and harsh realities.Published 16 months ago by Math Bird
Great short stroy by talented author, pithy and true to lifePublished 22 months ago by John Spencer