The Birthday Boys: A Novel

Open Road Media
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The dramatic, fictionalized account of Robert Falcon Scott’s famed and fatal expedition to Antarctica by one of Britain’s best-loved authors.

Departing from Cardiff in 1910, the Terra Nova entered dark waters and headed south. On board were Petty Officer Edgar “Taff” Evans, Dr. Edward “Uncle Bill” Wilson, Capt. Robert Falcon “Con” Scott, Lt. Henry Robertson “Birdie” Bowers, and Capt. Lawrence Edward “Titus” Oates. Through an imaginative yet historically accurate retelling of the crew’s mission to become the first explorers to reach the South Pole—and with each of the book’s five chapters narrated from the unique perspective of one of these men—author Beryl Bainbridge imbues a tragic and thrilling adventure story with profound psychological, metaphysical, and emotional insight.
 
The first three chapters of The Birthday Boys—recounted by Evans, Wilson, and Scott, respectively—tell of the preparations and fundraising required for the journey, two stopovers in Madeira and South Trinidad Island, and the difficult conditions the expedition faces when they land on Antarctica. It is Wilson who first fears for the safety of the crew, when from atop the ship’s crow’s-nest he spies a fantastical half-man-half-bird creature flying above the sea. The doctor is certain this apparition is a harbinger of death. Troubles then ensue when Scott sets up a base camp at Cape Evans as well as several depots in the direction of the South Pole. The motor sledge breaks down almost immediately, several ponies are lost to the harsh elements, and it is revealed that a competing polar expedition led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen is already well ahead of Scott’s team.
 
In the final two chapters—told by Bowers and Oates—readers are taken on a dangerous but spectacular detour to a penguin rookery, where the men witness gorgeous auroras, build an igloo, gather eggs, and slaughter the arctic birds for their blubber. When a violent blizzard hits, it looks as if no one will make it out alive. But brotherly love in the face of all odds gives the men the power to survive, and the five heroes set off on their final march to the South Pole.
 
Though history has already revealed the catastrophic end of this tale, Bainbridge shows us the bravery, courage, and humanity essential to the adventure. Masterfully blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, The Birthday Boys is a compelling historical biography that challenges readers to discover truths that can only be reached through the imagination.
 
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Beryl Bainbridge including rare images from the author’s estate.

 
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About the author

Dame Beryl Bainbridge (1932–2010) is acknowledged as one of the greatest British novelists of her time. She was the author of two travel books, five plays, and seventeen novels, five of which were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, including Master Georgie, which went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the WHSmith Literary Award. She was also awarded the Whitbread Literary Award twice, for Injury Time and Every Man for Himself. In 2011, a special Man Booker “Best of Beryl” Prize was awarded in her honor, voted for by members of the public.
 
Born in Liverpool and raised in nearby Formby, Bainbridge spent her early years working as an actress, leaving the theater to have her first child. Her first novel, Harriet Said . . ., was written around this time, although it was rejected by several publishers who found it “indecent.” Her first published works were Another Part of the Wood and An Awfully Big Adventure, and many of her early novels retell her Liverpudlian childhood. A number of her books have been adapted for the screen, most notably An Awfully Big Adventure, which is set in provincial theater and was made into a film by Mike Newell, starring Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. She later turned to more historical themes, such as the Scott Expedition in The Birthday Boys, a retelling of the Titanic story in Every Man for Himself, and Master Georgie, which follows Liverpudlians during the Crimean War. Her no-word-wasted style and tight plotting have won her critical acclaim and a committed following. Bainbridge regularly contributed articles and reviews to the Guardian, Observer, and Spectator, among others, and she was the Oldie’s longstanding theater critic. In 2008, she appeared at number twenty-six in a list of the fifty most important novelists since 1945 compiled by the Times (London). At the time of her death, Bainbridge was working on a new novel, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, which was published posthumously.
 
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Oct 4, 2016
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Pages
181
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ISBN
9781504039420
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Biographical
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Was the “Blood Countess” history’s first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?
 
In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crime: the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty škrata—a witch—a portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.

In this riveting dramatization of Erzsébet Báthory’s life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only son—a final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Báthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in sixteenth-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsébet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.

Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferenc’s extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.

The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husband’s power and secure her family’s future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Báthory’s demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Báthory the moniker “Blood Countess,” but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: In postwar Liverpool, a teenager joins a theater troupe to escape her working-class life—and is drawn into a darker world.

From one of Britain’s best-loved novelists, this is the story of Stella Bradshaw, an orphaned sixteen-year-old with dreams of getting out of her boardinghouse in the slums. Unwilling to resign herself to a job at Woolworth’s, she finds a place at the Liverpool Repertory Company instead.
 
She quickly falls head over heels for the rundown theater’s dissolute director, Meredith Potter, but he has no interest in her. And Stella is too naïve to understand why. As she tries to gain experience with other colleagues in the hope of one day seducing Meredith, the director is faced with a crisis when a cast member is injured just as the company’s production of Peter Pan is about to open. The replacement is an older man, a war hero and a prominent actor—and he’s instantly drawn to Stella. But while the romance that follows may be innocent, its implications are far from wholesome.
 
Named by the Times (London) as one of the “fifty greatest British writers since 1945,” author Beryl Bainbridge portrays working-class England in the aftermath of World War II with her signature dark humor and dry wit. Adapted into a 1995 film starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman, An Awfully Big Adventure is an atmospheric historical novel about the loss of innocence with a definitively modern—and chilling—twist.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Beryl Bainbridge including rare images from the author’s estate.

 
 
Winner of the Whitbread Literary Award: A darkly humorous tale about a 1970s dinner party gone terribly wrong by one of Britain’s most renowned authors.

Edward is normally a cautious man, especially when it comes to his mistress, Binny. But he feels bad that his lover never gets to enjoy the small intimacies of marriage, like sorting his socks or picking out gifts for his family. It is out of this guilt that Edward agrees to throw a dinner party with his “real friends” so Binny can feel more involved in his life and play hostess for a night. But there’s one catch: Edward has to be home no later than eleven to keep his wife from discovering his infidelity.
 
The invitees to the secret soiree are a discreet couple: Simpson, an aspiring adulterer himself, and Muriel, a simultaneously disapproving and open-minded housewife. But as Binny haphazardly prepares the food, shoos her children out for the night, and frets about the aesthetics of her front lawn, the guests take an unintended detour through her run-down neighborhood. Edward, meanwhile, is silently panicking—and drinking.
 
Simpson and Muriel finally arrive, and when everyone sits down to eat, it’s already a quarter past nine. Things get off to a decent, if awkward, start, until there’s a loud knock at the door. It’s Binny’s scandalously drunk old friend, Alma, who proceeds to vomit and pass out. But what should be the end of the evening is only the beginning. More unexpected guests arrive—this time it’s bank robbers with sawed-off shotguns. What follows is a chaotic and hilarious series of events, replete with a fake ping-pong match, a baby carriage full of cash, and a delirious getaway. Edward soon begins to worry less about getting home on time, and more about making it home at all.
 
Equal parts dark comedy and thriller, Injury Time is a witty take on 1970s social mores by one of the most celebrated British authors, Beryl Bainbridge, who was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times.
 
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Beryl Bainbridge including rare images from the author’s estate.
 
 
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In a compelling, richly researched novel that draws from thousands of letters and original sources, bestselling authors Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the fascinating, untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph—a woman who kept the secrets of our most enigmatic founding father and shaped an American legacy.

From her earliest days, Patsy Jefferson knows that though her father loves his family dearly, his devotion to his country runs deeper still. As Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter, she becomes his helpmate, protector, and constant companion in the wake of her mother’s death, traveling with him when he becomes American minister to France.

It is in Paris, at the glittering court and among the first tumultuous days of revolution, that fifteen-year-old Patsy learns about her father’s troubling liaison with Sally Hemings, a slave girl her own age. Meanwhile, Patsy has fallen in love—with her father’s protégé William Short, a staunch abolitionist and ambitious diplomat. Torn between love, principles, and the bonds of family, Patsy questions whether she can choose a life as William’s wife and still be a devoted daughter.

Her choice will follow her in the years to come, to Virginia farmland, Monticello, and even the White House. And as scandal, tragedy, and poverty threaten her family, Patsy must decide how much she will sacrifice to protect her father's reputation, in the process defining not just his political legacy, but that of the nation he founded.

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