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|Print List Price:||£8.99|
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The Bottle Factory Outing Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Beryl Bainbridge is always interesting, but this is not my favourite book of hers. I prefer her novels with historical settings, such as the brilliant Master Georgie. Humour is very subjective I simply did not find this book funny. She seems to be poking fun at the two women, while to me, they are just lost souls with sad lives. The second half, which is about the outing and its consequences, was much better. Relationships develop, things happen and the tone is much less whimsical.
Freda arranges a staff outing which goes horribly wrong from the first moment; this part of the story transports the reader from the merely shabby and mundane to an almost dreamlike and surreal scenario.
What should be a tragic ending to the book is somehow more of a black comedy. The death of a certain character felt less sad than some of the events in her life.
'Perhaps she was the lucky one, to go quickly and so young. For himself, years hence, there might be disease- pain: like an olive on the ground he would wither and turn black.'
It put me in mind of my hazy recollections of Play For Today (1970s BBC adult drama TV programme), or the more playful work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. It is quintessentially English, and also makes some very astute observations about culture, class, desire, difference, gender differences and human relationships.
Brenda and Freda, the two women at the heart of the book, share a dingy 1970s London bedsit (think Rising Damp) and together they redefine the term “the odd couple”. In addition to being flatmates, Brenda and Freda are also co-workers at the eponymous Bottle Factory which is an Italian-run north London wine bottling factory predominantly staffed by agricultural workers plucked, by the factory's Italian owner, from a life of subsistence farming in Bologna to London, the relative land of plenty. They are a tight knit bunch who do not know quite what to make of the two English women in their midst....
Freda is loud, large and domineering whilst Brenda is compliant, quiet, serious, educated and desperate not to give offence - despite a less than attractive description, and to Freda’s chagrin - Brenda also seems to attract numerous male admirers who try to possess her.
By the day of the bottle factory’s outing, sexual tensions are running high. Beyond that, the less you know about the plot the better, suffice it to say that a huge amount happens in a very short space of time (the book is about 200 pages long) and whilst implausible it is consistently inventive, entertaining, insightful, blackly comic and beguiling.
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Freda and Brenda are the most unlikely of flat mates but circumstances have thrown them together and now they...Read more
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