The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress Summary and Reviews

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress

by Beryl Bainbridge

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress by Beryl Bainbridge
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2011
    208 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[F]or lovers of Bainbridge's oeuvre, this is the book that places the period at the end of her life's work and shouldn't be missed." - Publishers Weekly

"Both vivid and dark, this page-turner is sure to be sought after by both historical fiction and mystery lovers. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"Unfinished, but a fitting and worthy coda to a storied career." - Kirkus Reviews

"[Y]ou'll almost certainly enjoy Beryl Bainbridge's dry humor and her book's pervasive sense of menace. It's an odd combination, but Bainbridge brings it off beautifully." - The Washington Post

"A genuine original with a macabre imagination." - The New York Review of Books

"Maverick, unique, and horribly funny." - The Guardian

"Beryl Bainbridge's novels are like elegant teacups that contain a strong, dark, possibly sinister but remarkable brew. Models of compression, they show us how much can be poured into a deceptively delicate vessel." - The New York Times

"Ranks among the finest of Bainbridge's fine works of fiction." - The Independent(UK)

"A tour de force, The Girl in the Polka-dot Dress is well able to take its place alongside Bainbridge's masterpieces. The power of this remarkable short novel remains long after one has finished. It also renews our sense of literature's loss at Beryl Bainbridge's death." - The Financial Times

"Very gripping, very funny and deeply mysterious." - The Spectator

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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.

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