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An Awfully Big Adventure [Paperback]

Beryl Bainbridge
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 6 2003
It is 1950 and the Liverpool reporatory theatre company is rehearsing its Christmas production of Peter Pan, a story of childhood innocence and loss. Stella has been taken on as assistant stage manager and quickly becomes obsessed with Meredith, the dissolute director. But it is only when the celebrated O'Hara arrives to take the lead, that a different drama unfolds. In it, he and Stella are bound together in a past that neither dares to interpret.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This novel of the theater scene in 1950s Liverpool follows a young actress who becomes romantically involved with a director.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A subtle schizophrenic insight into adult relationships ... Bainbridge's understated prose and obsessive eye for the smallest and most telling of details have never been better employed—TIME OUT

Vintage bittersweet Bainbridge—MAIL ON SUNDAY

Imagine Priestley's THE GOOD COMPANIONS as written by Gogol and you will have some idea of the mixture of waggish humour and sordid pathos in Bainbridge's novel—SUNDAY TIMES

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Jan. 23 2002
This spare little (205 pages) novel doesn't waste a word, yet signifies volumes. The highly honored Ms. Bainbridge, winner of the prestigious Whitbread Prize and short-listed (six times!) for the Booker Prize amply displays what all the fuss is about. She is that good.
The book is hard to categorize. It isn't a coming-of-age, a psychological thriller, a dazzling Peter Pan parable; it is all these things and more.
Stella raised in blue-collar, post WWII Liverpool is a troubled and troubling 15-year old who determinedly washed out of school and has been fixed up as a "student" (read gofer) at a provincial repertory company. She has no particular acting ambitions, but is certain she would be very good at it. We get a many-sided view of Stella; as she sees herself and as she is perceived by the people around her. Every scene and every word of dialogue interlocks like a jeweled timepiece. The reader is almost unaware of the ever-increasing momentum until it crashes upon you in a chilling finale. You think Ms. Bainbridge is through with you, but not quite. Just when you think you are utterly and completely emotionally drained, Ms. Bainbridge delivers a final twist, and now you know you are. I was left stunned.
An excellent example of fine prose. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read! Feb. 28 2000
Very honestly, I only read the book because the movie had struck me with its great directing, talented acting and a terrific unusual plot, and I must say I am not at all sorry I did so. I found the book refreshing and incredibly well-written.
An elaborate variation on Barrie's children's book in a grown-up-too-soon world, the novel combines with seeming effortlessness the youth's innocence and the wisdom and power of love of experience.
A young girl, accepted into the theatrical troupe of a small English town, finds herself enamoured of the stern mysterious director, unaware of the fact that his affections lie in the direction of his own sex and whose major characteristic is making everyone around him as miserable as he feels, trapped in unrequited love. She is indifferent to a great actor, who returns to his home town after becoming world-renowned and who, despite the great difference in their age, feels very close to her. She leaves him only to lead his investigation of her prior life to a tragic secret...
Read the book. You'll be surprised and, as variations on children's books are supposed to do, it'll make you older...
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Character Novel from Beryl Bainbridge Aug. 17 2000
By A Customer
"An Awfully Big Adventure" was a sheer pleasure to read. With her ability to make mundane life seem utterly unique and interesting, Bainbridge creates characters that no reader could soon forget. Stella, a young girl with her head-in-the-clouds who experiences the usual coming-of-age in a not so usual way; Meredith, the homosexual director with many skeletons in his closet and a lust for power over men; and O' Hara, a man who yearns for the past and finds it in a devestating way. With such a title, one would not expect such serious subjects as blackmail, incest, and adultery, but treated so subtlely, it is reminiscent of the play within the novel "Peter Pan", about the truths of growing up, whether you desire it or not.
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2.0 out of 5 stars An Awfully Awful Adventure Dec 11 2000
This dark and dreary book set in post war Liverpool(mid-50s) is really drawn out and confusing. The story is that of Stella, a sixteen year old actress, as she learns the hard way where acting stops and reality begins. She chases the director, and in trying to get his love, romances an aging actor who turns out to be her father. Tha characters are poorly developed past names, except for Stella, but she unfortunately, is hard to follow. She doesn't act normally, and the reader is left to puzzle over her. Near the end of the novel, we find that she was abandoned by her mother as a baby and is left with the deep physcoloical scars. This book loses the reader on page one, making it hard for the reader to want to fumble through it.
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