A girl returns from boarding school to her sleepy Merseyside hometown and waits to be reunited with her childhood friend, Harriet, chief architect of all their past mischief. She roams listlessly along the shoreline and the woods still pitted with wartime trenches, and encounters 'the Tsar' - almost old, unhappily married, both dangerously fascinating and repulsive.
Pretty, malevolent Harriet finally arrives - and over the course of the long holidays draws her friend into a scheme to beguile then humiliate the Tsar, with disastrous, shocking consequences. A gripping portrayal of adolescent transgression, Beryl Bainbridge's classic first novel remains as subversive today as when it was written.
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.