The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 17 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

In the tumultuous spring of 1968 a young English woman, Rose, travels from London to the United States to meet a man she knows as Washington Harold. In her suitcase are a polka dot dress and a one-way ticket. In an America recently convulsed by the April assassination of Martin Luther King and subsequent urban riots, they begin a search for the charismatic and elusive Dr. Wheeler- sage, prophet and, possibly, redeemer-who rescued Rose from a dreadful childhood and against whom Harold holds a seething grudge.

As they follow their quarry cross-country in a camper they encounter the odd remnants of Wheeler acolytes who harbor festering cultural and political grievances. Along the way, a famous artist is shot in New York, mutilated soldiers are evacuated from Vietnam, race hatred explodes in ghettos and suburbs and casual madness blossoms at revival meetings.

Many believe America's only hope is presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, whose campaign trail echoes Rose and Harold's pilgrimage. Both will conclude in Los Angeles at the Ambassador Hotel one infamous night in June.

Subversive, sinister and marvelously vivid, Beryl Bainbridge's great last novel evokes a nation on the brink of self-destruction with artful brilliance.
 

About Beryl Bainbridge

See more books from this Author
Beryl Bainbridge was the author of seventeen novels. The Dressmaker, The Bottle Factory Outing, An Awfully Big Adventure, Every Man For Himself and Master Georgie were all finalists for the Booker Prize, and Every Man For Himself won the Whitbread Novel of the Year Prize. The Guardian includes The Bottle Factory Outing on their list of the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time. An Awfully Big Adventure was adapted for a film starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. Beryl Bainbridge died in July 2010.
 
Published August 30, 2011 by Europa. 208 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Against the chaotic backdrop of 1968 America, a young British woman, Rose, and an angry widower pursue an elusive figure, admired and mythologized by her and murderously despised by him, from East Coast to West, a pursuit that culminates (though it doesn't quite end) at the Ambassador Hotel in L.A.

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that this posthumous, incomplete novel, “The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress,” brings together the two strands of Bainbridge’s fiction and knits them into a perplexing, dark narrative that — hindsight affording insight — almost seems to prefigure Bainbridge’s death.

Sep 09 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Rose is delphically self-absorbed and to Harold's horror seems to be banal, almost retarded Rose is on the way to being one of Beryl Bainbridge's greatest creations.

May 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Harold's view of Wheeler is rather different: his metamorphosis from implausibly glamorous and powerful friend to wife-stealer means Harold's mission is one of revenge rather than reunion, a fact he is at pains, throughout, to conceal from Rose.

May 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Accompanying Rose on her trip is Washington Harold, a friend of a friend, who also seeks Wheeler, but his motives are more sinister: Washington Harold's wife committed suicide after having an affair with Wheeler, and he wants revenge.

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Washington Post

The proceedings began with a prayer to Him on High followed by a rendering of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ sung without accompaniment by an elderly lady in a coal-black wig.” Similarly grotesque scenes and characters recur throughout “The Girl in the Polka-Dot Dress.” When Rose and Harold stop at a...

Aug 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Express

Yet to have a new Beryl Bainbridge novel is never less than a pleasure.

May 29 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Review (Barnes & Noble)

At the time of her death in 2010, beloved author Beryl Bainbridge was working on this rollicking tale of a young Englishwoman who, in 1968, joins a man on a cross-country road trip through a turbulent America.

Sep 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

We Love This Book

This is the novel Dame Beryl Bainbridge was writing when she died in July 2010.

May 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Scotsman.com

The last time I met Beryl Bainbridge, some ten years ago at a literary party, she breathed whisky over me and thanked me for having got her latest novel exactly right in these pages.

May 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

London Review of Books

You might argue that good novels depend on being able to dramatise what people don’t know: the author may know things, and so may the reader, but people not knowing things is always more interesting than what they know.

| Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The New Yorker

Subscribers can read the full version of this story by logging into our digital archive.

Oct 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The New Zealand Herald

The analysis was done by the rover Curiosity, which drilled into the rock… The judge in the deadly Colorado movie theatre shooting case entered a not guilty plea on behalf of James Holmes today after the former graduate student's defence team… ...

Jun 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Paris Review

TAGS After Claude, Beryl Bainbridge, Emma Bovary, George Plimpton, Gustave Flaubert, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Lucian Freud, Madame Bovary, Madoff, Metropolitan Museum, Nabokov, New York Public Library, Paris, Patrick de Saint-Exupery, polish radio, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, The Truth About...

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Paris Review

TAGS After Claude, Beryl Bainbridge, Emma Bovary, George Plimpton, Gustave Flaubert, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Lucian Freud, Madame Bovary, Madoff, Metropolitan Museum, Nabokov, New York Public Library, Paris, Patrick de Saint-Exupery, polish radio, The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress, The Truth About...

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

The Paris Review

—Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn In Paris I found myself reading several postbreakup novels: After Claude (thanks, Sadie!), plus two books by Jean-Philippe Toussaint about a recurring ex-girlfriend named Marie.

Aug 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Islington Tribute

A similar scene occurs in The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress and it made me think that Beryl’s genius was that of the knowing child, looking into the world of the grown-ups.

Jun 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

Reader Rating for The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress
45%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 11 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×