An old snapshot shows a group of friends lounging in the sunshine, on a weekend in the country at the invitation of bearded, satyric Claude and his wife Julia. The girl in the centre is dreamy Lily, whose latest failed love affair forms the purpose of the weekend, as Lily's friends set out to help her ensnare an unwitting father for her unborn child. Next to her is Norman, a Marxist romantic hell-bent on seducing his milk-white hostess; behind them is old, persecuted Shebah; and, slightly apart, the young man on whom all hopes are pinned: quiet, pleasant Edward.
Told through the fractured narratives of Claude, Lily, Shebah and Norman, in Beryl Bainbridge's first published novel a darkly comic weekend of friendship and failure unravels.
Beryl Bainbridge (1932-2010) wrote eighteen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television. Five of her novels were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Every Man for Himself and Injury Time won the Whitbread Prize, The Bottle Factory Outing won the Guardian Fiction Prize and Master Georgie won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Four of her novels including An Awfully Big Adventure were adapted for film. In 2011, Bainbridge was honoured posthumously with a special Best of Beryl Man Booker Prize in recognition of her outstanding career. Her final novel, The Girl in the Polka-dot Dress, was published in 2011.