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
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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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.

 
 
In 1910, hoping that the study of penguin eggs would provide an evolutionary link between birds and reptiles, a group of explorers left Cardiff by boat on Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to Antarctica. Not all of them would return. Written by one of its survivors, The Worst Journey in the World tells the moving and dramatic story of the disastrous Scott expedition. Driven by an obsession for scientific knowledge, these brave polar explorers embarked on a journey into the unknown, testing their endurance by pushing themselves to the ultimate physical and mental limits as they surveyed the striking and mammoth land that lay far to the south. Their goal was to discover as much as was scientifically possible about the terrain and habitat of Antarctica, and to be the first to reach the South Pole. The party was plagued by bad luck, weather conditions of unanticipated ferocity, and the physical deterioration of the party itself on the last part of the journey.

The youngest member of the team and its sole survivor, Apsley Cherry-Garrard gives a gripping account of Scott’s last expedition. The author was also part of the rescue team that eventually found the frozen bodies of Scott and the three men who had accompanied him on the final push to the Pole. These deaths would haunt him for the rest of his life as he questioned the decisions he had made and the actions he had taken in the days leading up to the Polar Party’s demise.

Prior to this sad denouement, Cherry-Garrard’s account is filled with details of scientific discovery and anecdotes of human resilience in a harsh environment. Each participant in the expedition is brought fully to life. The author’s recollections are supported by diary excerpts and accounts from other teammates.
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.

Three unforgettable novels from the “subversive and ever-mischievous imagination” of a celebrated British author and five-time Man Booker Prize nominee (The New York Times).
 
With crisp prose and sardonic wit, Dame Beryl Bainbridge established a unique position for herself in the landscape of modern British literature. In the three novels collected here, Bainbridge explores disasters both epic and intimate, drawing inspiration from historical figures as well as her own life experiences to produce tightly woven tales that are at once ironic and honest, subtle and surprising.
 
An Awfully Big Adventure: In postwar Liverpool, a teenage girl joins a local theater troupe and discovers the unflattering truths behind the gloss of adulthood. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, this atmospheric novel was adapted into a film starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.
 
“A former actress herself, Ms. Bainbridge chronicles the backstage antics of her fictional theater company with knowing aplomb.” —The New York Times
 
The Birthday Boys: In 1910, Capt. Robert Falcon Scott led a harrowing race to the South Pole. With this imaginative yet historically accurate retelling of their famous and ill-fated mission, “Bainbridge has quite surpassed herself” (Financial Times).
 
“Equally convincing in its evocations of the icy, unendurable landscape without, and the chilling interior landscapes of damaged souls.” —The Sunday Telegraph
 
Master Georgie: The story of a British surgeon journeying toward the horrors of the Crimean War is told from the perspective of three companions who each believe they knew him best. This “stunning” novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won numerous awards (The New Yorker).
 
“Accomplished with stupendous technical skill . . . a true novelist’s novel.” —The Guardian
Romantic comedy meets social satire in this delirious novel about sexual freedom versus British tradition in swinging 1960s London.

When dull professor Gerald leaves London for the United States, his fiancée, Ann, is a bit afraid and sad to see him go—never has he looked so handsome and masculine as when he’s about to board the plane. But a few days later at a religious service, Ann is beckoned to sit next to a stranger with yellow curls and a nose like a prizefighter’s. Her heart inexplicably begins to race; she feels like she has the flu. This stranger, William McClusky, tells Ann in his Scottish accent that he is a playwright who will be interviewed on TV the very next day. Furthermore, he promises to have a television dropped by her house so she can watch him! From this first bizarre seduction, Ann is infatuated, and in the days following, William begins to take over her life.
 
In the throes of the affair, Ann gives up her BBC job, helps a friend get an abortion, encourages adultery, and writes a break-up letter to her fiancé. Her engagement to Gerald had been rushed, after all, and was designed to serve her mother’s desires more than her own. With William, on the other hand, everything feels different. But is this new man really who he says he is? Is he a genius or a fraud, a compassionate soul or a cheater? Perhaps William is simply a means by which Ann can play out her dangerous fantasies and finally take part in the swinging sixties. Only one thing is certain: Now that she’s with him, there’s no turning back.
 
An ironic investigation into the art of self-deception and the repercussions of sexual freedom, this blend of black comedy and social satire showcases the wit of award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, and affirms her status as a mainstay in twentieth-century British literature.
 
 
A darkly humorous fictionalized account of Adolf Hitler’s alleged stay in England as a young man.

Before becoming the Führer of the Third Reich, it is said Adolf Hitler was a failed artist who bummed around at his half-brother’s house in Liverpool from 1912 to 1913. Based on the memoir of the future despot’s sister-in-law, Bridget Hitler, Young Adolf is a vivid imagining of this alleged visit to the United Kingdom.
 
The story begins with Adolf aboard a ferry, aiming to avoid Austrian military service. He has no luggage, save for a book, and holds a false passport made out in the name of his dead brother, paranoid that the authorities might be tailing him. But what Adolf should be worried about is how he will be received at his destination. At the train station, his brother Alois greets him with outrage. Alois had sent money for their sister Angela to travel to Liverpool, but Adolf stole the funds.
 
Taking refuge on the sofa for days, Adolf makes only one friend: Jewish landlord Mr. Meyer, surprisingly enough. With mutual interests in opera and architecture, the two become close, though Adolf does mention his thoughts on race relations and “contaminated blood.” Eventually, under pressure, Adolf stops loafing and gets a menial job. Most people think he won’t ever amount to much, but it’s clear that Adolf has bigger aspirations.
 
Originally published in 1978, this was the first foray into historical fiction for award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, who would become famous for works like Master Georgie and the bestselling Every Man for Himself. Combining dark humor and psychological intrigue, Young Adolf is a portrait of both a man and a city before two World Wars changed everything.

 
This historical novel set during the eighteenth century recounts the tumultuous final years of famed English lexicographer and poet Samuel Johnson.

In 1764, Britain’s greatest man of letters—the writer of the first English dictionary—shut himself in his room and refused to come out. Exhausted from working on an edition of Shakespeare’s plays, Samuel Johnson had fallen into a deep depression. He refused to eat and only opened his door to cry out incomprehensible phrases or empty his chamber pot. Finally, a priest was able to lure the scholar out of confinement, and, as he did, Johnson’s friend Henry Thrales arrived. Shocked by Johnson’s fit of madness, Thrales promptly whisked the man away for recuperation at a country mansion south of London.
 
Thus began one of the happiest periods of Johnson’s life. At the Thrales residence in Streatham, Johnson regained his sanity and engaged in family life. He selected books for the estate’s library, joked around at parties, and became close to Thrales’s wife, Hester. But as the years passed, the affection between Johnson and Hester developed into a dark romantic affair, the Thrales’s daughter grew up and became aware of her mother’s emotional unavailability, and Johnson’s passions and eccentricities led to cumbersome moral and spiritual dilemmas.
 
With chapter titles taken from entries in Johnson’s legendary dictionary, lauded British author Beryl Bainbridge paints a well-rounded portrait of an extraordinary man and his all-too-human experiences. Written from the perspective of the Thrales’s daughter, According to Queeney heightens fact with fiction, sincerity with irony, and humor with despair. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it is a captivating account of the Georgian era, lending modern insight to British history.

 
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