'This is one of Bainbridge's best books. The close observation and hilarity are underlain by a sense of tragedy as deep as any in fiction' The Times
SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE IN 1990
It is 1950 and the Liverpool repertory theatre company is rehearsing its Christmas production of Peter Pan, a story of childhood innocence and loss. Stella has been taken on as assistant stage manager and quickly becomes obsessed with Meredith, the dissolute director. But it is only when the celebrated O'Hara arrives to take the lead, that a different drama unfolds. In it, he and Stella are bound together in a past that neither dares to interpret.
A Booker Prize nominee, Bainbridge's latest novel is a compelling read, again demonstrating her acuity of observation and darkly comic view of life. In Stella Bradshaw, a teenage aspiring actress from the slums of Liverpool, Bainbridge limns a tough but beguiling character. She also deftly conveys the atmosphere of 1950s England, still grimly bomb-cratered, coping with food rationing and the visible casualties of maimed veterans. Her portrait of a seedy repertory troupe, whose members histrionically indulge in love affairs and unrequited passions, is classic. Into this company, directed by elegant Meredith Potter, comes Stella, inveigled into their midst by her uncle/guardian, who feels that the stage is Stella's only alternative to working in Woolworth's. Added to her knowledge of her illigitimacy and lower-class origins (the Bradshaws bathe once a fortnight, and share ``the family towel''), Stella has the normal self-consciousness and naivete of adolescence overlaid by a strong will, guilelessness and lack of tact. Her innocent but dangerous impulses and her crush on Meredith, whose homosexuality eludes her, makes Stella a sort of Typhoid Mary of psychological injury; one after another, members of the troupe suffer from her impetuous behavior. Bainbridge's prose brims with pithy insights tinged with sardonic humor, and her plot moves swiftly to a chilling conclusion.
Any of Her Books
Why this magnificent Author has not received a Booker Prize is beyond me