Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
|Print List Price:||£8.99|
Save £3.00 (33%)
Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
This price was set by the publisher.
The Bottle Factory Outing Kindle Edition
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
I have read other novels and stories by Beryl Bainbridge and so I am familiar with her “gritty” style but even by her standards, this is grim. It is, of course, fantastically well written and every bit as evocative as you would expect; as I read, I could see every detail of Brenda and Freda’s dreadful bed-sitting room, the drab factory environment where they worked and had I been in Windsor Great Park 40+ years ago, I am sure I could have located the exact spot where the picnic took place. However, I thought the plot was a bit thin and, in places, nothing short of ludicrous. Also, I found the characters difficult in this particular book. A lot of them were the sort of caricatures that Dickens would have been proud of (I don’t imagine our Beryl made any new fans among Irish or Italian people with this book) and none of them have any redeeming features at all. I was also disappointed by the ending; the story just sort of fizzled out. So this is, for my personal taste, a bit too depressing but it is a wonderful period piece all the same.
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's been about three weeks since I finished Beryl Bainbridge's The Bottle Factory Outing. In that time I've read and reviewed other books. But I've been putting off writing a review of this book because I just didn't know what to make of it. It's an odd book, and as I mentioned before, it's about a very odd couple!
Brenda and Freda are friends (sort of!), flatmates, and work colleagues at the bottling factory where they both work on the production line. Both have had their ups and downs, and to be honest, if you'd kept a score throughout their lives, probably a lot more downs than ups!! The story sees them preparing for and then going on a works outing which they are organising, partly to add a little change and colour to their fairly drab lives and partly because Freda has an ulterior motive - to get her hands on Vittorio, the relative of the factory owner and the most desirable of the many Italian immigrants working in the factory. Much of Brenda and Freda's lives revolve around the everyday and their work at the factory, owned by the almost mysterious Mr Paganotti, who is mentioned throughout the book but never actually appears. There's a host of strong Italian support characters, mostly from the factory, such as the unusual and amorous Mr Rossi, with a slightly eccentric Irishman chucked in for good measure!
However, it's the relationship between Freda and Brenda that is the heart and soul of the book. But I hesitate to call it a friendship - it reads and feels more like a kind of social and emotional marriage of convenience than a friendship. And from the outset, the odd feel to the book is rooted in this slightly bizarre pair. Their first meeting is odd - Freda virtually force-feeding Brenda into being adopted/taken under Freda's wing(not a terribly cosy or safe place to be!!), after a chance encounter in a shop as Brenda flees from a disastrous marriage, a seriously mad mother-in-law and a husband who is the village 'soak' essentially! The oddness is maintained in their everyday lives - for example, separated at night in the bed they share by a bolster of books of all things!
The first part of the book sets up the story and while mildly amusing in several places it's a gentler kind of comedy here. It's at the factory outing where the story really takes off into a whole new level of odd and where it really does become the blackest of black comedies! From this point on I'll say nothing more about the story for fear of spoiling it but suffice to say it's full of twists, blind alleys and an eventual denouement which is both hilarious and tragic at the same time! I laughed at it - but I'm ashamed to admit that I laughed at it!
So if it was hilarious, why wait so long pondering what to make of it before I came to review it?
I think the answer lies in the "black" part of black comedy - I found this to be so sharp, so acutely observed and so raw in places that it was almost uncomfortable to read. The tensions between Freda and Brenda or between them and the other characters are painful to observe in places - you almost feel embarrassed - it's a bit like when you see a couple rowing in public and you want the ground to open up and swallow you even though you don't even know them!
The few Beryl Bainbridge books I've read are all slightly quirky and odd - populated with characters who, if they were flat shapes would be all corners and sharp edges rather than smooth and curved! This is no exception. And yet, on reflection I did enjoy it - and I judge that partly on the basis that I laughed out loud several times when I was reading this book! (that in itself was an uncomfortable feeling though as I read this book on the dreaded, evil, Kindle, while walking the dog in the park - the looks from other dog-walkers and park -users at the man with the dog suddenly breaking out into laughter will forever be in my memory and associated with this book!).
Another feature of the other Beryl Bainbridge books I've read is that you get plenty of 'bangs for your bucks' with her. This was a short and very easy to read novel - and yet it's got comedy, farce, horror, violence, love, poverty, royalty, and much more, all packed into it! You can't do anything but like the way she writes and the characters she draws, who don't just leap off the page at you but who also grab you by the throat and pin you down until you submit!
Overall - the book is odd - it's about an odd couple in an odd relationship living in odd circumstances. It's a book that is quirky odd, cruelly odd, viciously odd, uncomfortably odd, and blackly odd, but overall it's really hilariously, terrifically, odd!
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Beryl at her best.
Freda and Brenda are the most unlikely of flat mates but circumstances have thrown them together and now they...Read more