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Publishers Weekly: "Shouldn't Be Missed"

Date: Aug 25 2011

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Beryl Bainbridge. Europa (Penguin, dist.), $15 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-60945-056-4

 

In Bainbridge's (1932–2010) final, unfinished novel, she transports readers to the spring of 1968. In this era of high-profile assassinations Rose, a damaged young Englishwoman, arrives in Baltimore to begin a cross-country odyssey in search of Dr. Wheeler, a member of Robert Kennedy's entourage. Rose met Wheeler in the U.K. and fell somewhat in love, as he provided much needed solace from her unhappy life: warring parents, a child taken away and given up for adoption. 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. The story reaches its apogee in L.A. at the Ambassador Hotel, where the private fates of these two people collide with RFK's very public one. Assembled by Bainbridge's editor from her manuscript after her death, this is a novel that the author longed to complete; the pacing isn't always right and the characters could be more sharply defined. Still, for 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. (Sept.)