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The Birthday Boys by [Bainbridge, Beryl]
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The Birthday Boys Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Length: 192 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Bainbridge's account of the horribly familiar story is both fresh and sure-footed. The power of her imagination, her clarity of expression and mastery of language are more striking than anything else I have read this year (Jane Shilling, Sunday Telegraph)

A beautiful piece of story-telling. Far more accurately than any biography could do, it catches what must have been Scott's hold on his followers (Andro Linklater, Spectator)

Her darkest work, equally convincing in tis evocations of the icy, unendurable landscape without, and the chilling interior landscapes of damaged souls (Penny Perrick, Sunday Telegraph)

She writes of the hideous deprivations so boldly endured; the astounding beauties of the Antarctic landscapes; the personality clashes; the emotional reticences . . . It seems to me that Beryl Bainbridge has quite surpassed herself in a completely new im (Mary Hope, Financial Times)

Book Description

* A Bainbridge classic comes into Abacus paperback for the first time

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 512 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (26 Aug. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0049MPHYY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #121,747 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are many biographies and histories written about Scott and his polar party, but Bainbridge brings the human element to the story, reflecting on the people, their motivations and ultimately their feelings as they walked towards death.

The book is written in five chapters, one for each of the final polar party, written from their perspective.

The common man, Petty Officer Evans, with his worries about money and his drink problems opens the book as the expedition sets out from Cardiff.

Class is forever present, and the final four chapters deal with the officer class.

Edward Wilson, deeply religious but leading the scientific programme. Highly reserved, he's still a person that everyone looks up to and consults for advice, which he gives reluctantly:

"Better to say nothing than to condemn, and to laugh with than to criticise, and so much happier."

Wilson was Scott's anchor, he protected the men from Scott's wrath and yet allowed Scott to get his problems off his chest, easing his stress.

Scott was a man of contrasting passions - at once the naval officer striving to lead, and yet he struggled to stamp his authority, feeling the weight of the entire endeavour weighing heavily on his shoulders. He was also a man of contradictions: criticising Shackleton from previous expeditions for carelessness and lacking attention to detail, and accusing Gran of laziness; yet Scott failed to calculate that five men attempting the final assault on the pole, when they had rations and space for only four could be disastrous.
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Format: Paperback
When Captain Scott reached the south pole in 1912, he did so with a party of 4 other men. All very different characters, all with seperate motivations, backgrounds and outlooks. That's part of why the story of their expedition is still so fascinating. Beryl Bainbridge takes each important stage of the expedition, starting with the endless fundraising in England and the first meetings of the crew and finishing with Captain Oates' long walk into the blizzard and has a different explorer narrate it. She gets under the skin of each man so very perfectly and convincingly that it's sometimes difficult to remember that these are their fictionalised thoughts, not their journals and letters.
As someone who's read many of those journals and letters, I found each voice and attitude wonderfully realised. We all know how it's going to end, but the journey is a compelling one. Each man's frailties and strengths are touched on lightly but with conviction, in a way that seems utterly credible. Not just a book for armchair explorers but for anyone interested in how men's minds work.
And, however your mind works, at least one of these men will capture your imagination. Oates is the popular choice but I've always preferred Bowers. Witty cynicism is all very well, but in a tough spot, you can't beat hard-graft and demented optimism.
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By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fictionalised version of the ill-fated Polar expedition led by Scott. Each chapter is narrated by a different member of the team. Knowing from the outset that these were the ones who died making the final journey to the South Pole made it all the more poignant. It is a beautifully written book which makes all the characters come alive.

Some of the errors made by the expedition are (seen in hindsight) unbelievable. Few of the team had any serious experience in either skiing or moving sledges with dog teams. The ponies were unsuitable for the terrain, as were the motor vehicles. Scott eventually chose (against all previous plans) to take five rather than four on the final push to the Pole - this had a damaging effect on their supplies which he failed to take into account.

Bainbridge treats all the men with honesty and sensitivity. She exhibits a real understanding of the mindset of the officer class of the Edwardian era - the divisions between officers and men, the feeling that using huge dog teams was "unsporting" and the virtue of stoicism.

A lovely book that led me to a greater understanding of a group of men who were heroic while at the same time slightly insane!
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By A Customer on 8 April 2002
Format: Paperback
This is very possibly the best book I have read. I greatly admire Bainbridge's writing, but even she has here surpassed herself. Her prose is spare yet precise and her writing is so skilful that she tells you everything in an astonishingly few words. She blends fact and fiction so convincingly that the reader is there with these poor men. Brave yet foolhardy, loyal yet desperate, she brings their famous and tragic story to life in a way I have never before encountered. A short book and one which you savour, trying to make it last, yet knowing that you will soon have finished it and go right back to the beginning to read it again. READ IT!
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Format: Paperback
Half-way through this novel, I was so disappointed that I looked up its Amamzon reviews, found that they were all positive, and decided to carry on with it. Sadly, I haven't changed my views. This slim novel, based on the famous and tragic expedition to the South Pole, springs no surprises, nor did I expect any. But for me (and it seems I'm alone here) the characters never really came to life, the story skipped around too much - flashbacks, different viewpoints - and all in all I found it a very unsatisfactory read. The abrupt ending didn't help; I felt that so much more could have been made of the deterioration of the health and the conditions of the explorers during their heroic stuggle towards the end of their doomed expedition. When I reached the last page, I turned it over, expecting at least a little more, but that was it. I would love to know whether I'm alone in my opinion of this novel; is there anyone else out there who agrees with me?
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