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The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge

This highly individual book, from the much loved and missed Beryl Bainbridge, is the antithesis to a dry, historical tale of Scott's fateful Antarctic expedition.

With amazingly inventive imagination and striking clarity, she digs deep into the makeup of these familiar characters. The arresting result is they burst into life; convincingly real, alluringly complex lives, complete with loves, aspirations, fears, regrets and inner conflicts.

Few other writers are likely to achieve such rich character renditions. Totally credible and identifiable renditions.  Renditions that exhibit all the strength, fragility, confidence, vulnerability and emotional complexity you'd expect from men destined for such an expedition and ultimate fate. Men described in the book as, "misfits, victims of a changing world."

Interestingly each of these five main characters - Petty Officer Edgar (Taf) Evans, Dr Edward (Uncle Bill) Wilson, Capt. Robert Falcon (Con) Scott, Lt. Henry Robertson (Birdie) Bowers and Capt. Lawrence Edward (Titus) Oates - are given their own chapter, written from the first-person narrative viewpoint.

These chapters are full of engaging dialogue; intimate conversation and drinking stories revealing past experiences, warmly remembered comrades and shared adventures. The story begins just before embarking on the long voyage south. Each subsequent chapter progresses through the 21 month timeline, guiding the reader inexorability towards its finale.

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