Beryl Bainbridge Omnibus
2 journalers for this copy...
You never quite know what you are going to get with Beryl Bainbridge, except for originality, great characters; and normally an equal measure of bitter and sweet, with a huge side order of erudition and wisdom. A brilliant writer.
Stella is an aspiring young actress who joins a local repertory company, in Liverpool, circa 1950. This is BB’s home patch and era, and she has a theatre background, so more than a hint of autobiographical, or at least authentic 1st hand detail, I think? Stella meets a large, dissolute & dysfunctional cast of actors, although I must admit to losing track of a lot of the characters and sub-plots in the first 150+ pages as BB sets the scene. But once we get into the main act (a production of Peter Pan), with Stella’s unrequited love for the director Meredith Potter and loveless liaison with faded leading man P J O’Hara , it all starts to bowl along nicely…only to crash against the buffers. Although BB did leave enough subtle clues, the last few pages and unfolding history felt like a train crash! Very sad in the end, more grey than gay, more tragedy than comedy.
Stella is a marvellous creation, you just want to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her; when you’re not shaking her in frustration!
When it all goes wrong in the end, a resigned O’Hara says, "Life is full of conflagrations…we can never be sure when we’ll be consumed by the past"
And Stella, who day-dreams attending funerals and mourning for friends and family, "Death wouldn’t be such an awfully big adventure (for Uncle Vernon) - he was too old"
In one of those strange synchronicity moments, I read Peter Pan only last year, and I also saw 'Finding Neverland' on the flight back from Canada last week. Its almost like i've planned it all!
A question; the line 'An Awfully Big Adventure' is used in the film and the Bainbridge book, but does it come from J M Barrie - if so i'd like to know the original quote & context :)
Released 14 yrs ago (4/19/2005 UTC) at
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
On its way down under. Enjoy!