- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Abacus (1 Oct. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0349121567
- ISBN-13: 978-0349121567
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Birthday Boys Paperback – 1 Oct 2009
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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)
* A Bainbridge classic comes into Abacus paperback for the first timeSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book. As usual for a Beryl Bainbridge book it is a slim volume but all the best for it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Cad
Poignant and brilliantly written this short novel by Beryl Bainbridge is well researched and captures minute detail of the characters very well. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Sam Pepys
Book club book, great read particularly if you know a bit about the history - I didn't but still worth a readPublished 22 months ago by Helen W.
An enjoyable novel, looking at the Scott expedition from a different angle. It focussed on the five who went to the Pole, writing part of the story from the point of view of each... Read morePublished on 8 Oct. 2014 by Beejay
Bought three Bainbridge books together and this was my favourite. The others were An Awfully Big Adventure and According to Queeney.Published on 25 Sept. 2014 by RosieLee
I liked the idea of the book much more than the book itself. I found the writing wooden and the characterizations shallow and based on well established stereotypes. Read morePublished on 1 Jun. 2014 by robert fletcher
An unexpected title. I didn't expect the subject to be about Scott of the Antarctic but it was done done so well. Read morePublished on 16 Jan. 2014 by K. Slater