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Bainbridge continues on her path to the North. Following her novel, The Birthday Boys (LJ 3/1/94), which reconstructed Robert Scott's expedition to Antarctica, this tale takes place on the ill-fated Titanic. The story is narrated by Morgan, a young American, and follows the events between boarding and rescue by the Carpathia. Morgan is a gentle twit in the best Saki/Wodehouse tradition, but he is also a keen observer. People come together and break apart in the brief voyage, but in the final race for the lifeboats blunders become gallantry and chivalry becomes slapstick. Every Man for Himself is an intriguing combination of historical fact and eclectic interpretation. There is a surreal Monty Pythonesque tinge to the book, which will please Bainbridge's fans as well as those new to her work. General readers and students of the Titanic disaster will find it a welcome addition to their libraries.Lesley C. Keogh, Bethel P.L., Danbury, Ct. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Bainbridge is the second writer this year to use the Titanic's fateful maiden voyage as the framework for a novel. Where Erik Fosnes Hansen's Psalm at Journey's End [BKL Ag 96] focused on a fictional group of musicians, Bainbridge's version is narrated by an Edwardian Generation X'er, the nephew of shipping magnate John Pierpont Morgan. During the four days aboard ship, Morgan drinks too much and dallies with his friends, is disappointed in love, introduces a penniless tailor to the owner of Macy's, and meets up with the mysterious Scurra, a man who faces death with the same cynicism with which he lived his life. Seamlessly interweaving real people and invented characters with the actual events of the sinking of the ship, Bainbridge uses life aboard the Titanic as a metaphor for the years immediately preceding World War I, with its wide gap between rich and poor, the lovely and careless young men (soon to die), the casual and acceptable anti-Semitic attitudes, and the sexual double standard. --Nancy Pearl
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Bainbridge, whose The Birthday Boys was an unforgettable rendition of Scott's fatal Antarctic expedition, has turned to another Edwardian tragedy for her new novel: the sinking of the Titanic. As Bainbridge admirers might expect, it is not the kind of version that would make a spectacular movie; rather, it is a meticulously observed account that almost offhandedly convinces the reader that this is exactly what it must have been like aboard the doomed liner. The story is told by a wealthy young American man-about-town, an adopted nephew of J. Pierpont Morgan, who in search of something to do has had a slight hand in the ship's design ("the specifications of bathtubs"). Once aboard, he drinks too much with his layabout friends; sees people like the Astors and Strauses; becomes infatuated with a girl who in turn falls for a mysterious and cynical stranger; and gets to know a young Jewish dress designer who is hoping to become a hit in New York. In a few deft strokes Bainbridge shows the gulf between the steerage passengers and the "nobs" while communicating the alternating servility and resentment of the crew. The book is nearly over before disaster strikes, but once again, the unnerving details seem just right: the careless self-confidence at the beginning, the gallantry quickly eroding to panic. Bainbridge's swift, economical novels tell us more about an era and the ways in which its people inhabit it than volumes of social history. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved