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Books Editorial

beryl16.jpg Beryl Bainbridge: biography

Brendan King, Bloomsbury Continuum

“I didn’t want it like this. I just wanted to be with him. I just wanted to love and be loved in return.” This lament, culled from a letter sent by Beryl Bainbridge, encapsulates what much of this biography concerns itself with: the tangled, and often wretched love life, of one of the UK’s greatest post-war novelists. From a former German prisoner of war when a teenager, through to the husband of her friend and editor, Anna Haycraft, Bainbridge lost her heart to some real doozies. Brendan King, who knew Bainbridge in the latter years of her life, has drawn extensively on her letters and diaries to give us a portrait of a woman whose quirky eccentricities made her something of a celebrity, but a woman who had a turbulent private life almost from the get go. I would have liked to have had more on the actual novels themselves, but this compelling account does detail how her life continually seeped through into her work, her traumas proving real grist to the mill for this most measured of authors.