Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Joseph decides to take his mistress and son, together with a few friends, to stay in a cabin in deepest Wales for the weekend – with absolutely disastrous results. Beryl Bainbridge’s gift for deadpan dialogue and spare narrative, and her darkly comic vision of the world, are all in evidence in this early novel.

I read Another Part of the Wood because I’ve enjoyed other books by Beryl Bainbridge. It’s a novella, really, as it’s only 159 pages. I love her style, dark humour with clear, concise prose, and fully realised characters. It was her second book, first published in 1968. She revised the book and reissued it in 1979. My copy is a Fontana edition published in 1980. I read it at this time because it’s the novel that came up for me to read for the latest Classics Club Spin. It’s also one of my TBRs, a book that I’ve owned since 2016.

Like all of Beryl Bainbridge’s books that I’ve read it is well written and makes compulsive reading, with individual, mainly unlikable, characters who are mostly at odds with each other. I enjoyed the oddness, never really knowing what would happen next. The title has a theatrical feeling, pointing out the different scenes in the book as the action switches from one part of the wood to another, with one or more of the characters taking centre stage.

It’s set in Flintshire, Wales, in a holiday camp, which consists of huts in a wood at the foot of a mountain. There is George, the owner of the land, and Balfour who works in a factory during the week and helps him at the weekends. George, is obsessed with the Holocaust and Balfour, a shy, quiet man suffers from some sort of illness – he gets sick very suddenly with a high temperature and the shivers as though he’s turned to ice. All he can do is hide away and sleep it off.

The book begins as George’s friend, Joseph, a selfish, insensitive man, arrives for the weekend from London, with his young son, Roland, his girlfriend Dotty, and Kidney, a fat teenager who apparently has learning disabilities and a health problem (never explained), dependent on his pills. In addition Joseph has invited another couple to join them, Lionel and his wife, May, an unhappy couple with a dysfunctional and argumentative relationship. They are all townies, like fish out of water in the countryside and find the huts claustrophobic and too basic – May refuses to use either the chemical toilet or the bushes.

The atmosphere is tense right from the start and rises throughout the book as their relationships become increasingly fractious. Having promised Roland that he would take him for a walk up the mountain, Joseph leaves him to his own devices. He withholds Kidney’s pills and argues with Dotty. Dotty and Balfour walk off to the village where she buys a coat of many colours and Balfour falls ill. The wood, as in fairy tales, is not a safe place.

The world was a deep deceptive forest, full of promises and little glades and clearings, and in the dark depths roamed the wolves, savage, snapping their great teeth, waiting to spring on those who wandered from the path. (page 73)

There’s a sense of foreboding, the sense that something terrible is about to happen … but what, and who is in danger? I felt that more than one of these characters could come to a sticky end. And I was unsure, fearing the worst for one particular character – and sadly I was right. It was inevitable.

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30 October 2022.

Synopsis:

In a remote cottage in Wales two urban couples are spending their holiday with the idealistic owner and his protege. The beginning is idyllic but catastrophe lurks behind every tree, and as the holiday continues their relationships start to show their cracks.

I’m so glad this is my spin book as this has been on my TBR list for 6 years. I’ve enjoyed all of Beryl Bainbridge’s books that I’ve read so far and so I’m hoping to love this book.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

Before next Sunday, 18 September, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. On that day the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30 October, 2022.

Here’s my list:

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  4. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
  5. The Stars Look Down by A J Cronin
  6. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  7. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  8. The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
  9. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  10. The Birds and other short stories by Daphne du Maurier
  11. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  12. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  13. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  14. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  15. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  16. Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
  17. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  18. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
  19. The Invisible Man by H G Wells
  20. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I don’t mind which one is picked as I’m aiming to read all of them in due course! But which one/s would you recommend?

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is The Mousetrap and Other Plays by Agatha Christie and I am delighted as this is a book I’ve wanted to read for years!. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 7th August, 2022.

Synopsis from the book:

These four gripping plays by the undisputed Queen of Crime, here published for the first time in book form, provide yet more evidence of her mastery of the domestic thriller. Agatha Christie’s talents as a playwright are equal to her skills as a novelist and reading her plays, with their ingenious plots and colourful cast of characters, is every bit as pleasurable.

The Mousetrap has made history by becoming the longest running play ever. And Then There Were None was another huge theatrical success and was made into a superb film by Rene Clair. The two remaining plays were both adapted by Agatha Christie from her earlier novels: The Hollow, set in the English countryside and Appointment with Death, set among the exotic ruins of Petra in the suffocating heat of the Jordan desert.

Agatha Christie dramatised many of her own stories and frequently devised new twists of plot and character to surprise and enthrall her audience.

The Mousetrap opened in London’s West End in 1952 and ran continuously until 16 March 2020, when the stage performances had to be temporarily discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then re-opened on 17 May 2021. It’s set in a guest house, Monkswell Manor, wintertime “in the present day”, that is the early 1950s. The play has a twist ending, which the audience are traditionally asked not to reveal after leaving the theatre, so I’ll be limited in what I can write about it.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

Before next Sunday, 12 June, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list. On that day the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 7 August, 2022.

Here’s my list:

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  3. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  4. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  5. The Mousetrap and Selected Plays by Agatha Christie
  6. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
  7. The Stars Look Down by A J Cronin
  8. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  9. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  10. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  11. The Birds and other short stories by Daphne du Maurier
  12. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  13. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  14. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  15. How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  16. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute
  17. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  18. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
  19. The Invisible Man by H G Wells
  20. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I don’t mind which one is picked as I’m aiming to read all of them in due course! But which one/s would you recommend?

Edited on June 9, because I’ve just realised I’ve included A Room with a View which I’ve read – it was my Classics Club Spin book from the last Spin! I just copied the previous list (with a few alterations) and didn’t realise it was still on the list. I’ve now removed it and added The Awakening by Kate Chopin instead.

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is A Room with a View by E M Forster. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30th April, 2022.

This has been on my Classics Club List for ages, so it’s time I read it – I think I saw the film years ago.

Set in freewheeling Florence, Italy, and sober Surrey, England, E. M. Forster’s beloved third novel follows young Lucy Honeychurch’s journey to self-discovery at a transitional moment in British society. As Lucy is exposed to opportunities previously not afforded to women, her mind – and heart – must open. Before long, she’s in love with an “unsuitable” man and is faced with an impossible choice: follow her heart or be pressured into propriety.

A challenge to persistent Victorian ideals as well as a moving love story, A Room with a View has been celebrated for both its prescient view of women’s independence and its reminder to live an honest, authentic life. (Goodreads)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

I have a new list, so plenty to choose from for this spin list. Before next Sunday, 20th March create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.On that day the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 30th April, 2022.

Here’s my list:

  1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  2. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  3. The Mousetrap and Selected Plays by Agatha Christie
  4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  5. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
  6. The Stars Look Down by A J Cronin
  7. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  8. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  9. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  10. The Birds and other short stories by Daphne du Maurier
  11. A Room with a View by E M Forster
  12. Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  13. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
  14. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  15. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  16. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute
  17. On the Beach by Nevil Shute
  18. Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck
  19. The Invisible Man by H G Wells
  20. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I ‘d really like The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo to be picked as that is a book I’ll definitely be reading for FictionFan’s Review-Along to be reviewed on 20th April – that would be my ideal choice. Failing that, I’d like a shorter book! Maybe The Birds and other short stories by Daphne du Maurier. Any of one them would be OK, although I probably wouldn’t be able to finish it in time …

So, I’ll be looking out for number 14!

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 12 December, 2021.

I am delighted as this just the book I wanted to read next! It was one of my 20 books of Summer, but I didn’t get round to reading it then.

It was a cloudless summer day in the year nineteen hundred.

Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three of the girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of Hanging Rock. Further, higher, till at last they disappeared.

They never returned.

Whether Picnic at Hanging Rock is fact or fiction the reader must decide for themselves. (Goodreads)

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

Classics Club Spin

It’s time for another Classics Club Spin.

I have just 2 books left on my Classics Club list, so I’ve started to compile a new list. and have added 18 of these to make up my Spin List. Tomorrow the Classics Club will post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List by 12 December, 2021.

Here’s my list:

The first two are the ones left to read on my old list

  1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge
  4. Out of Africa by Karen Blixen
  5. Death in the Tunnel by Miles Burton
  6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  7. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  8. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  9. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  10. Daisy Miller by Henry James
  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  12. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
  13. How Green was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  14. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence
  15. 1984 by George Orwell
  16. Night at the Crossroads by Georges Simenon
  17. Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon
  18. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  19. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Wentworth
  20. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I suppose I really should just read the first two books but I really fancy reading one of the books from my new list. And a little bit of what you fancy does you good according to the English music hall song. What do think?

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

Framley Parsonage is my current Classics Club spin book. Although I read my previous spin book, Little Dorrit , I didn’t write a post about it. So, I decided to make an early start with Framley Parsonage to make sure I finished it before the 22nd August deadline – which I did!

Synopsis – Goodreads

A brilliant depiction of social climbing and scandal, Framley Parsonage tells the story of Mark Robarts, a young clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he makes a financial deal with the disreputable local Member of Parliament, but is instead brought to the brink of shame and ruin.

One of Trollope’s most enduringly popular novels, Framley Parsonage is an evocative portrayal of country life in nineteenth-century England, told with great compassion, humour and an acute insight into human nature. 

It is the fourth book in Anthony Trollope’s series, the Chronicles of Barsetshire, first published in serial form in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860, then in book form in 1861.

This is a long book – 688 pages in the Penguin classics edition – and begins slowly. It took me a while to settle into reading it and to sort out who all the characters are and how they relate to each other, There are several plot lines – there’s the clergyman Mark Robarts, the Vicar of Framley, and his attempts to climb up the church hierarchy. Mark through naivety, is bamboozled by Nathaniel Sowerby, a member of parliament. He guarantees a three-month bill of Sowerby’s for £400 (making Mark liable if Sowerby does not pay a £400 debt within that time) and then a further bill for £500. This does not go well for Mark!

Another plot line is that relating to Mark’s sister, Lucy and her on/off romance with Lord Lufton, much to the disapproval of his mother, Lady Lufton. Mark and Lord Lufton were childhood friends and Lady Lufton is Mark’s patroness, which causes problems all round, especially as she would much prefer her son to marry Griselda Grantley, the daughter of Doctor Theophilus Grantly, the Archdeacon of Barchester. There’s also a subplot involving Mrs Grantly and Mrs Proudie, Bishop Proudie’s wife, and their rivalry over their daughters’ marriages. There’s another marriage in the offing, that of the outspoken heiress, Martha Dunstable, to Doctor Thorne, the eponymous hero of the preceding novel in the series, Doctor Thorne.

Framley Parsonage is full of lifelike and interesting characters engaged in their everyday life and inevitable class inequalities and power struggles, described with a fair amount of wit and humour. Interspersed between the plotlines Trollope introduces several sections of political commentary on the Parliamentary shenanigans of the day, which I have to admit were less interesting to me. But it seems that not much has changed in the way the political parties carried on both in parliament and in their relationship with the press. The next book in the series is The Small House at Arlington, which I expect I’ll eventually get round to reading.