Beryl Bainbridge

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Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:01 pm

Beryl Bainbridge deserves her Booker, but she was never robbed

Bainbridge's repeated disappointments as a shortlisted author resulted from bad luck, not conspiracy


Beryl Bainbridge: lottery loser. Photograph: Michael Putland/Hulton Archive

It's easy to see the latest people's jury Booker vote as a publicity stunt. Not least because (to a certain extent) it is. Yet I'd be surprised if many people object to Beryl Bainbrbidge being the subject of this posthumous attention. It must have been agony to turn up for the award ceremonies in 1973, 1974, 1990, 1996 and 1998 and clap and smile for the cameras when different names were called. It may be too late for her to enjoy the honour but still it feels like some balance has been restored. Her daughter Jojo Davies says: "Beryl did want to win the Booker very much despite her protests to the contrary. We are glad she is finally able to become the bride, no longer the bridesmaid." I'm not about to argue with that.

More contentious, though, is the question of whether Bainbridge ought to have won the prize when she was alive – and why she didn't.

Many think she was robbed. No less an authority than Ion Trewin, the literary director of the Man Booker prizes, says: "Beryl Bainbridge was the greatest novelist of her generation who didn't win the Man Booker prize, and quite underservedly so." Some are even more forthright. Paul Bailey, her friend and fellow author said when she died: "She should have won it three or four times – because hers were better than the junk that did win."

Considering that she lost out to books as good as JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, AS Byatt's Possession and Stanley Middleton's neglected but wonderful Holiday, all that seems excessive. So too do most of the suggestions I've read about why she might not have won. These are neatly summed up in an essay the Booker authorities have placed on their website, written by Alvaro Ribeiro. Like all the best conspiracy theories, these sound very convincing until you actually know anything at all about the subject.

The most notable suggestion is that Beryl Bainbridge's origins in Liverpool disqualify her from being able to "censure British ways" in the eyes of right-on judges:

"In this perceived betrayal from within, we confront that striking characteristic of the Booker prize best described as 'the Empire strikes back'. This phenomenon allows novelists from the Commonwealth and overseas the privilege to write, as Salman Rushdie (1981), Kazuo Ishiguro (1989), or Michael Ondaatje (1992) do, with impunity as they sharply critique British culture, playing on Britain's massive sense of postcolonial guilt. But for Bainbridge, a native of Liverpool, to do so quite so insistently makes her into an internal threat. Thus do Booker judges marginalise her, and down she goes at the last hurdle."

I'd go along with that if it weren't deeply insulting to suggest that – say – a book as good as Midnight's Children won the award out of some sense of "guilt" rather than its own merit – and if every single person who won in the years Bainbridge was shortlisted weren't Caucasian. Indeed, when she was first shortlisted in 1973, the winner was JG Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur. That was a book written by an, erm, Liverpudlian and it provided just the kind of critique that poor Dame Beryl supposedly wasn't allowed to make. The more simple truth is that she was unlucky. Plenty of people consider The Dressmaker her best book, but as Hilary Mantel says in a fond tribute to Bainbridge, that still doesn't mean it deserved to beat The Siege of Krishnapur.

Ribeiro's other big idea is that Bainbridge's books were too short. "Booker Prize judges, faced with the gravity of their decision, naturally lean towards the gravitational pull of a big complicated book: Midnight's Children (1981); Possession (1990); Sacred Hunger (1992); The Blind Assassin (2000)." Hopefully, if you're a stats nerd like me, you'll already have noticed that only one of those books ran against Bainbridge – Possession. Once again, it's an extraordinary book that took on Bainbridge's novel that year, An Awfully Big Adventure, and won. What's more, when Bainbridge was in the first stage of her career and writing the kind of short book that Ribeiro claims the judges don't like, she lost out to two short books: Holiday and The Conservationist. Again, those are both fine novels.

So much for providing a coherent explanation for Bainbridge's misfortune. The more prosaic truth is that there are no real patterns that explain why books win the Booker (beyond the fact that the judges tend to come from the media establishment and don't like SF unless it's written by Margaret Atwood). Each year is a lottery. Beryl Bainbridge also had the bad luck to be up against some excellent competitors. Most of the time. Sadly, it was later on in her career, when the Booker bridesmaid jokes must have really begun to sting, that her books were beaten by two singularly unpopular winners: Graham Swift's Last Orders and Ian McEwan's Amsterdam. "There was only one time that I cared, I think about the fourth time, when I began to kid myself that I would win; everybody said so, all the bets and everything. And that was quite a bit of a shock," said Bainbridge during an interview for Desert Island Discs in 2008. Ouch! It might not necessarily right any wrongs, but it's nice to know that she couldn't lose this time around.

Posted by Sam Jordison Wednesday 20 April 2011 10.17 BST guardian.co.uk

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:25 pm

I read The Birthday Boys, enjoyed it very much. I think you would too Eddie , it is a story about Captain Scott and the final team on the fatal journey.

I have Master Georgie but haven't read it yet.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:40 pm



The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge

"In this stunning new novel, award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge offers a brilliantly fictionalized account of the doomed Antarctic expedition led by Captain Scott in 1912. At once hair-raising and beautiful, here is an astonishing tale of misguided courage and human endurance. The Birthday Boys of the title are Scott and four members of his team, each of whom narrates a ...moreIn this stunning new novel, award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge offers a brilliantly fictionalized account of the doomed Antarctic expedition led by Captain Scott in 1912. At once hair-raising and beautiful, here is an astonishing tale of misguided courage and human endurance. The Birthday Boys of the title are Scott and four members of his team, each of whom narrates a section of the book. As the story progresses the reader discovers that these men may not be reliable reporters. Their cocky optimism is both ghastly and dangerous. Brought up to despise professional expertise, their enterprise is lunatic, amateur and gentlemanly. Beryl Bainbridge makes it hauntingly clear: the men are fatally doomed in their bravery, the very stuff of heroes. Captain Scott's poignant trek becomes, in this remarkable novel, an historical event which prefigures the terrible new world dawning in Europe. It was an inept rehearsal for the carnage of the first world war, the ultimate challenge for the arrogant generals who shared Scott's skewed notion of courage that led men qualmlessly into harm's way. Subtle, poetic and unforgettable, The Birthday Boys is impossible to read without experiencing that magical shiver up the spine which is caused when great writing touches the soul...."

Sounds very interesting. Thanks, Nash. One to look out for.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:02 pm

The secret art of Beryl Bainbridge

In her seventies, the Booker-nominated novelist struggled with her declining powers as a writer – and turned increasingly to painting

Kate Kellaway The Observer, Sunday 15 May 2011


Beryl Bainbridge at her home with one of her paintings. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/Rex Features

Beryl Bainbridge's daughter, Jojo Davies, is lifting one painting after another outside into her back garden so they can be photographed in a clear light. The paintings are by her mother. Beryl Bainbridge died of cancer on 2 July last year, but her career as a novelist seems to have a life of its own. She has recently been honoured by Booker (she was shortlisted five times for the prize) with a special award for Master Georgie (1998) and her new novel, The Girl in the Polka dot Dress, is out in June (she did not complete it, but editor Brendan King has adroitly remastered it).

All this would be remarkable enough, but the most extraordinary thing to emerge since her death is Bainbridge's other life: as a painter. It is already being said that if Bainbridge had not succeeded as a novelist, she would have made her name in paint. The canvases are resurfacing and an exhibition is in prospect.

Jojo, who looks uncannily like her mother, albeit fairer, is still in the early days of grief. She has had less than a year to try to adjust to what is, patently, an almost ungraspable loss. But the paintings are a tremendous source of comfort because – and nothing rivals paint for this – they hold the sense of her mother's continuing presence. "In her will, Mum left us one painting each," she says. Bainbridge assumed her children would not want more, but Jojo, her brother, Aaron, and their younger sister, Rudi, have given house room to all 18 of their mother's pictures.

It is not a puzzle why they have been overlooked until now; Bainbridge dismissed them herself. If anyone admired a painting, "she'd pull a face and say, 'Oh, darling, don't be silly'". Or, at best, she might admit: "That bit is quite nice." Yet she continued to feel the pull towards painting – and painters. Jojo's father, Austin Davies, was a painter and photographer and when their marriage ended, Beryl had a five-year relationship with another painter, Don McKinlay, which was an "incredibly creative time".

It may partly have been in comparison to these men that Bainbridge did not rate her own work. A pity, you might say – but Jojo's theory is that "because she wasn't competing, she had a terrific freedom". Painting was blessedly recreational and she adored making up stories on canvas (fiction in oils). Jojo recalls Captain Dalhousie's Wedding, in which a sea captain stands "stark naked except for his hat, with his horse behind him". His wife, Mrs Dalhousie, is starkers, too, with a huge posy between her legs. She was modelled on "Pauline, a neighbour down the road" – a "vast" woman (who also shouldered her way into The Bottle Factory Outing).

Bainbridge never cared particularly for contemporary art (Francis Bacon was an exception), but she had a cherished photograph of Chagall on her wall. What she enjoyed most were narrative-rich battle paintings and Victorian hospital scenes of the sick and wounded. She had no formal art training but was artistic from an early age – and, if anything, over-effective. Her illustration of a rude rhyme, discovered in her gymslip pocket, contributed to her expulsion from Merchant Taylors' Girls School in Liverpool. And when she left school it was to pursue a third talent – as an actress.

She cannot have failed to learn about painting from Austin Davies, who taught at Liverpool School of Art. "It was the late 1950s. They were such a hip couple – and there were lots of painters and musicians in Liverpool. Stuart Sutcliffe – the Beatle who died – used to babysit for us. John Lennon was at Liverpool School of Art and my father taught him." And what of Don McKinlay? How much did he, in turn, influence Bainbridge? He was a "fantastically important figure and painter". Jojo adds that she would love to see him again. When she looks at the painting Napoleon When Young, she observes that the face is Don's and the view from the window is of the Lancashire farm where they lived with him for a year, in 1968. "Their bedroom was an area with massive paintings on the go. We had no television but a huge dolls' house that we peopled with plasticine fathers, mothers, babies, sideboards and plants." Jojo loves being reminded of the farm, "because I was a child there. While we are still in this huge feeling of loss, I can look at pictures of the farm and feel we will always be there". Did her mother stay in touch with McKinlay? "Yes," says Jojo, in a voice that sounds uncertain, as though she more or less means no. "But Mum knew the time together was no longer there."

In later life, whenever Bainbridge finished a novel, she would start a painting, usually inspired by the book. It sounds a celebratory ritual, as if she were trying to marry her two talents. Was the painting a release from the writing? Jojo believes it was more about expediency. Beryl told her that she "missed" painting when writing. And so, when a completed novel created a gap, she would pick up her brushes. "She had a fantastic wicker box with all her oils and a palette knife… but she was a very messy painter."

Jojo works as a midwife and is, not surprisingly, artistic herself (she studied at Liverpool School of Art). She remembers, at 15, her mother directing her first attempts at painting. "You must start with a self-portrait," she said. Her father told her painting was a "waste of time". He had, by this stage, become "disillusioned": his first show had been successful, his second badly reviewed and he had gone into a decline. "He burnt all his paintings." Better to feel – as Beryl seems to have done – that painting was fun.

Once the paintings have been inspected, we go inside. Jojo digs out a photo of Beryl and Don on the doorstep of Albert Street, Camden Town, north London, where her mother lived for 40 years. The picture was taken by her father (after Bainbridge divorced him, Austin Davies lived for a while in the basement flat of the house). There is a loving flamboyance and mischief on their faces. "So hip and happy…" says Jojo. "It was 43 years ago."

Jojo's house in Muswell Hill is full of the amazing spoils of Albert Street: Eric the much-written-about stuffed buffalo has moved into her spacious hall. He looks slightly the worse for wear, but stunned, his balding cheek exposing straw. Jojo plans gentle surgery: a new glass eye has been purchased. And a lot of Bainbridge's religious statues have congregated in the living room: quiet saints, a thoughtful angel; Jesus is on the landing. Jojo studies another photo – Beryl holding hands with her and Rudi as little girls. They are shopping in a market. Looking at it, she exclaims fondly: "Mum looks so glamorous!" and remembers (though the picture is in black and white) "that pinky-brown lipstick!"

The photos, the wayward icons and the buffalo remind one of what a visual person Bainbridge was (and in her writing, too). It wasn't just canvases she painted. "She didn't like appliances," Jojo says. "She hated white boxes" and would paint "fridges – anything". On one occasion, she painted an entire piano (white with loops of flowers).

But in her last 10 years, creativity was harder to come by. Writing was often a torment. She was honest about this and Jojo remembers her bravely maintaining in a television interview that "the creative urge was tied up with sexuality. When you lose the sexual urge, you lose creativity". Jojo remembers her reading aloud from her published novels and asking herself: "How did I do that?" At worst, she would weep and say: "I can't bloody do this." Jojo would pass the message on to her agent, but to no avail, because: "Mum would not leave it. She could not. She did not know who she was if she wasn't writing".

Six months before her death, Bainbridge started work on a canvas to illustrate The Girl in the Polka dot Dress. She saw the heroine, Rose, as herself. She pictured her in a polka-dot dress with her hands raised, waving in a "girlish fashion". Waving goodbye, perhaps? She was not well enough to see the idea through. But it sounds, from this heroic attempt at the right image, as if it was possible that Beryl Bainbridge did not know who she was unless she was painting too.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:05 pm


Napoleon When Young- BB.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:07 pm


Owl in Glass Case- BB.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:09 pm


Samuel Johnson in Albert Street, Camden Town with his cat Hodge- BB.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:11 pm


Captain and Mrs Scott (see above^)- BB.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 15, 2011 7:13 pm


Rudi, Aaron and JoJo- BB.

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Tue May 24, 2011 11:37 pm

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge – review

Beryl Bainbridge was desperate to finish her final novel, set in Kennedy-era America, before she died last year. But, even incomplete, the book blazes with her unique talent

Melvyn Bragg The Observer, Sunday 22 May 2011


Beryl Bainbridge photographed for the Observer by Murdo Macleod at the Edinburgh book festival in 2001.

When Beryl Bainbridge was on what proved to be her deathbed, entangled in tubes, she was insistent that I (and I'm sure others) get the doctors to give her 30 days in which to finish her novel.


The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge

Beryl moved uniquely on the cusp between a finely self-mocking wit and steely seriousness. Sometimes it was difficult to know quite what was going on. And was her protestation something of a performance to help us, her visitors, through the pain of watching her inexorable exit?

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress shows that she was not only serious, she was desperate. She was obsessed with completing the novel and the novel aches for completion. Her long-time friend and editor, Brendan King, has put together the book, we are told, "from her working manuscript, taking into account suggestions Beryl made at the end of her life. No additional material has been included." When I finished the book for the second time I wanted to write to him and say: are you sure there is no additional material? Just a few clues? Any clue will do.

What we have is an unfinished novel that blazes with Beryl's unique talent. The story is teased out stealthily and you have to be on the lookout. She wastes not a breath on unnecessary explanation. In brief, two people, Rose from England and Harold from America, drive across the latter's continent looking out for a Doctor Wheeler. Rose is about 30, but she met Doctor Wheeler, an American, in Liverpool when she was a young girl and one way or another they kept in touch. Wheeler has become a tutelary figure and almost mythic in her memory. She has got herself invited to America by Harold, a rather shadowy character who is using her to get to Doctor Wheeler in order, we learn eventually, to take revenge on him. Wheeler has, we understand, had an affair with Harold's wife, which was followed by her suicide.

They drive across America in pursuit of Wheeler, who is always a city or two ahead of them. There is something of the road movie about the novel as we track through a dysfunctional country in an apocalyptic phase. Robert Kennedy is about to run for president. Assassinations are the nature of the times.

Harold is an intellectual and we keep meeting friends of his who want to talk politics. Rose is delphically self-absorbed and to Harold's horror seems to be banal, almost retarded

Rose is on the way to being one of Beryl Bainbridge's greatest creations. She comes out of a violent background – violent in words and manners, but violent also in the way in which her life has been decided for her. A love affair at 15 (the only time she was in love) with a boy her own age resulted in a child, ripped away for adoption at birth. Her father's weird anger drove her out of the house repeatedly. There was at least one violent rape attempt. Doctor Wheeler is the only beacon she has.

What is wonderful about her is the way that she is given an internal life through sentences that are brilliantly elliptical and often very funny. When Harold offers her a glass of wine she shakes her head: "She wasn't into wine; in her opinion it took far too long to make one cheerful." "The here and now meant little to her; it was what made her so unusual." She reflects that "judging from the state of the toilet bowl, Americans didn't know about Vim". And then she will come out with something that shakes Harold: "It never does any good," she said, "to dwell on things that can't be changed. That way madness lies." She is very reluctant to wash, either herself or her clothes: "Too much cleaning makes us susceptible to germs," she says authoritatively.

Rose regularly converses with her past and mumbles conversations to her dead father. The intercutting between past and present works like a dream. On occasions when Harold and his friends talk politics, she takes part in the conversation but follows her own independent line. For instance, they are speaking about Senator Joseph McCarthy and Rose pops up about "that song about a park in a rainstorm". She goes on to sing, "Macarthur's Park is singing in the rain ..." The others ignore her and continue the higher gossip while she continues on her own sweet way.

It becomes clear that Harold is out to kill Wheeler. Rose, the waif, defeats any attempt he can muster to engage her, although typically when he does once have sex with her for a few seconds she is quite pleased because she feels less bad about the money he is spending on her, taking her across America in his camper van. A debt has been paid.

Brief encounters mark their journey. At one place they are cooked a lunch. The lady of the house, Philopsona, offers them chicken: "'The birds,' she trumpeted, were her pride and joy, each one with a name and fondled from birth. She never allowed anyone but herself to wring their necks. 'It wouldn't be right,' she assured Rose. 'They need someone they can fucking trust.'" Not long after that the novel ends. We are then presented with a (real) report from the Los Angeles Times, 6 June 1968, which speaks of a "girl in a white dress with polka dots who ran from the hotel where Senator Robert F Kennedy was shot and said 'we shot him'." When we left Rose she was wearing a polka dot dress and had somehow got into the Ambassador Hotel. When we left Harold he had shaved off his distinctive bushy beard. We knew he had a gun and he had severed his link with Rose.

Yet the newspaper report poses questions. If "Rose" did say "we shot him", who does the "we" refer to? And was the phrase "we shot him" said in triumph or panic or just another example of Rose hitting the nail on the head and moving on?

The problem is that between the novel and the LA Times report you really want to see the join. This does not stop The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress from being a superb and memorable work of fiction, even though it lacks the final completeness Beryl longed to give it.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Beryl Bainbridge

Post  eddie on Sun May 29, 2011 10:04 pm

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge – review

Beryl Bainbridge's 18th novel, although interrupted by her death, shows her at her dark and mischievous best

Alex Clark The Guardian, Saturday 28 May 2011


On the trail ... Bobby Kennedy campaigning in 1968. Photograph: Bill Eppridge/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

According to those close to her, Beryl Bainbridge was striving to finish her last novel shortly before she died last July. Not only does it seem an entirely natural impulse in a lifelong writer confronting the final line, but The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress adapts one of story-telling's most established narratives, the quest. How, then, to be satisfied with creating a search without a discovery, a journey without an arrival?


The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge

Except that Bainbridge was never quite that neat a writer; elliptical, mysterious and not too hung up on the indispensability of closure, her novels quite frequently seemed to lack an easily decipherable resolution, and be all the more powerful for it. This, her 18th, does indeed seem to have been interrupted by her death; her long-term friend and editor, Brendan King, prepared the text for publication from her working manuscript, "taking into account suggestions that Beryl made at the end of her life". But despite the novel's climax tending to be febrile and incomplete - not only bringing to an end the journey of its two central characters but also encompassing the assassination of Robert Kennedy - what remains is a characteristically dark and mischievous slice of Beryl at her best.

We begin in confusion. Rose, a dental receptionist who has been side-stepping the advances of dubious men ever since she arrived in London at 16, a refugee from an oppressively unhappy childhood, is now on the move again. Almost 30 but strangely childlike, her destination is America but may as well be the moon, so adrift does she seem; and her host, the daffodil-bearded Washington Harold, immediately strikes one as inadequate as a protector. But why are Rose and Harold, who barely know one another, poised to journey from Baltimore to California in a second-hand camper van, albeit one with running water, and an Abraham Lincoln clock? And why are they so intent on tracking down the trilby-hatted but otherwise almost featureless Fred Wheeler?

Clues come quicker than answers. Rose regards Wheeler as her saviour, the catalyst that allowed her to escape the parents who blighted her childhood and were responsible for the adoption of the child she bore when under age; he appears to have had no direct agency, but rather imbued her with the liberating apprehension that "suffering was the direct and immediate object of life", and that the world is a penal colony where a price must be paid for existence. Harold's view of Wheeler is rather different: his metamorphosis from implausibly glamorous and powerful friend to wife-stealer means Harold's mission is one of revenge rather than reunion, a fact he is at pains, throughout, to conceal from Rose.

Wheeler, however, is not all that divides them. Disappointed by one another almost from the off, they make curious travelling companions, rumbling from Baltimore towards Los Angeles where, it is rumoured, Wheeler has become part of Kennedy's entourage ahead of the California primary – in a state of mutual incomprehension that often shades into disdain. Of Rose's gnomic pronouncements, mystical flights of fancy and incuriosity towards her surroundings, Harold "told himself that if he wanted to avoid slapping her he must bear in mind that he was dealing with a retard".

For her part, Rose wishes merely to keep on the road, homing in on the almost existentially elusive Wheeler; Harold's expectations of her - he envisages her tossing salad while he points out the wonders of the night sky and then, we imagine, the rest - are of little concern to her. And we don't entirely blame her. "Trust Harold," remarks one of his bohemian friends when Rose reveals she has been taken on a less than thrilling tour of Washington. "Always the man for exciting information."

But if Rose finds America moving wallpaper, then Bainbridge does not. She conjures a country in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, where fires burn, workmen board up shops and red paint is hurled at synagogue doors. On the road, she describes "a confusion of flyovers, underpasses, intersections, junctions, toll gates. Yield, the signs instructed in bright yellow. Sometimes there were fields full of cows, once a river, brown and swollen, once a town with a railway track running down the middle of its street. On either side, bursting back from the highway, the trees tossed rainwater." On a postcard to her friends back in London, Rose writes simply "weather lovely".

From campsite to campsite and diner to diner, through groups of Harold's eccentric friends, Harold and Rose encounter a series of truncated obstacles, giving a lift to a monsignor who's broken down on the way to bury a soldier flown back from Saigon, falling foul of a Theosophist and being held up in a bank robbery. But the ups and downs of their off-kilter road trip are not Bainbridge's real focus, comically and deftly sketched though they are. Her real talent is to show minds glancing off one another, all of them hedged around with fear and desire and the shadows of the past. For Rose and Harold, each stuck, in their different ways, in a history that seemed to run away from them, it is a ridiculous irony that they should be attempting to journey into the future. It was never going to work.

It's no accident that when Rose and Harold reach Los Angeles they intersect with an episode from American history not only so painfully fateful but also so bewildering. The brief appearance of Sirhan Sirhan - Bobby Kennedy's assassin, whose actions have been the subject of theories that include hypnotism and mind control - pulls us towards dizzying thoughts of individual responsibility and the effects of charisma and personal magnetism. The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress may not have every final i dotted and t crossed but, as most of Bainbridge's oeuvre did, it leaves its readers with more to think about than one might imagine possible for such a slender tale. It is a fitting finale and a poignant farewell to a career defiantly and uncontestably sui generis.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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