Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sweet William by Beryl Bainbridge (1976, reissued 2016 by Open Road Media)

Dame Beryl Bainbridge is regarded as one of the greatest and most prolific British novelists of her generation. Consistently praised by critics, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize five times, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and twice won the Whitbread Award for Novel of the Year.   She was born in Liverpool in 1932 and died in London in 2010.

Works Read to Date

Harriet Said

The Bottle Factory Outing

According to Queenie

Young Adolf

Sweet William 1976

Beryl Bainbridge is highly emphatic, able to move from the consciousness of teenage girls, to an imagined young Adolf Hitler on a holiday in England, to blue collar women working in a bottle factory to Samuel Johnson and the Thrales in late 18th century London. 

Sweet William is the story of a woman in her twenties, Ann living in Hampstead. She works for the BBC.  As the novel opens she is at the airport seeing off her fiancé Gerard who is leaving for a job in New York City.  The plan is Ann will join him soon.  Then she meets William,at church.  He invites her to coffee,tells her of his work as a playwright. He tells Ann he will soon be on a BBC program talking about his work.  When she tells William she has no TV, he says give me your address and i will send you a TV.  From this meeting an affair develops.  Her mother goes ballistic when she learns William is married.  

Ann has feelings of guilt for cheating on Gerard, but she begins to think he no longer intends to bring her to the USA.  She also knows it is wrong to steal the husband of another woman.  To make it all the more complicated she develops a relationship with the wife.  There are lots of interesting didbits of information we are tantalized with.  Her critical relatives  may have a less than pristine pasts.  

I love the exquisite prose of Bainbridge, there is so much in this conversation when Ann first tells her mother of William

"‘I don’t know, Mummy. He’s very rich. Oh Mummy, he’s married.’ ‘It’s every woman for herself,’ said Mrs Walton. ‘But his wife?’ Ann could see Edna in a come-dancing mood, gliding about her home, devoid of husband. ‘It’s all wrong, isn’t it?’ she asked, wanting confirmation. ‘What does his father do?’ ‘He’s a General, Mummy, in—’ But Mrs Walton was over the moon with delight. A General. How pleased Captain Walton would be. It was too late to mention the brass band playing in the gutter –the sea of love was rolling in. ‘I’ll come down and meet him,’ Mrs Walton threatened. ‘Just say the word.’ ‘Wait,’ said Ann. ‘Not yet. Wait.’ She cursed herself for having told her mother about William. From then on she lived in constant fear of that step on the stair, the veiled hat with the primroses stiffly waving, emerging from the taxi, the gloved hand extended to greet the General’s son."

There is a very good 1980 movie based on the novel.  I was able to watch the full movie on YouTube.  

Open Road  Media  is a dynamic high quality  publisher with over 10,000 books and 2000 authors on their well organized web pages. The prices are very fair and the formatting of their E Books is flawless.  

The Beryl Bainbridge books are only being offered for sale in the USA

     2001, Bainbridge made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth 

Mel u



Tea said...

I am vaguely familiar with this author's name. It is a complicated situation.

Mel u said...

Tea Norman.Bainbridge was a successful U K author for nearly thirty years. Many must have memories of her work. Thanks very much for your comment