Beryl Bainbridge's latest novel is a masterly evocation of the last years of Dr Johnson, arguably Britain's greatest Man of Letters. The time is the 1770s and 1780s and Johnson, having completed his life's major work (he compiled the first ever Dictionary of the English Language) is running an increasingly chaotic life. Torn between his strict morality and his undeclared passion for Mrs Thrale, the wife of an old friend, ACCORDING TO QUEENEY reveals one of Britain's most wonderful characters in all his wit and glory. Above all, though, this is a story of love and friendship and brilliantly narrated by Queeney, Mrs Thrale's daughter, looking back over her life. A few of Johnson quotes: *Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures *No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money *When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life
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(196mm x 125mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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UK Kirkus Review »
Queeney was Hester Thrale's eldest daughter, and Hester Thrale's house was where Samuel Johnson found a home-from-home for many years. Considering the motley bunch of sad cases to whom he gave shelter in his own house, and the comfort of the Thrale establishment, it was little wonder. Bainbridge is scrupulous in her depiction of the details of contemporary life, and of Johnson's own life. Johnson was a complex man. He had married a widow twenty years older than he was, with a fine bosom and a bank balance. After her death, which he managed not to attend, he always said he had loved her desperately. So how did Mrs Thrale feature in his sexual life? When we read of a padlock and chain which he entrusted to her, and a letter from her telling him not to quarrel with his governess for not using the rod enough, our sophisticated 21st-century minds leap to an obvious conclusion. But are we right? Johnson had 'insane imaginings' about fetters and manacles', but they may have been part of his fear of madness, rather than a sexual ambition. We don't know: and with great skill, the author leaves us to wonder. Bainbridge's achievement lies in the bringing to life the most incredible characters of their worlds. The highlights she adds to her crowded canvas are masterly, and the device of framing her narrative in a series of letters written long after the events they concern succeeds brilliantly. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Beryl Bainbridge
Beryl Bainbridge wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and won literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010.