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The Bottle Factory Outing

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  1,187 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
Freda and Brenda spend their days working in an Italian-run wine- bottling factory. A work outing offers promise for Freda, and terror for Brenda, passions run high on that chilly day of freedom, and life after the outing never returns to normal.
180 pages
Published 2001 by Duckworth (first published January 1st 1974)
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Paul Bryant
Nov 11, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Ten cheers for Beryl, I intend to read everything by her eventually. Her career was a major successful brow-swerve - she wasn't highbrow, lowbrow or middlebrow, she just banged along on her rickety typewriter smoking 25 ciggies per hour and coughing her lungs out, entirely in her own bubble, and such a weird four-dimensional bubble it was. This middling Beryl is a tale of a workers' outing, just like the plot of a Carry On film but translated into Russian by someone who didn't realise it was sup ...more
J. Kent Messum
Billed as a black comedy, my feelings on 'The Bottle Factory Outing' are mixed. I imagine most readers reactions would be mixed too, although I could see it being for considerably different reasons.

First, the skinny on the story: Two young flatmates, Freda and Brenda, work at a wine factory in London. They couldn't be more different from one another, or the mostly Italian immigrant men that work alongside them. Freda is fierce, independent, troublesome and romantic. Brenda is a victim plagued by
Dec 20, 2015 Nigeyb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Bottle Factory Outing is the first book I’ve read by Beryl Bainbridge. I suspect this is not up there with her very best books, however it inspires me to want to read more of her work as as there is plenty to enjoy in this unusual tale.

It put me in mind of my hazy recollections of Play For Today (1970s BBC adult drama TV programme), or the more playful work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. It is quintessentially English, and also makes some very astute observations about culture, class, desire,
Jul 26, 2012 Col rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
..........Beryl Bainbridge's Bottle Factory Outing is a book about a chalk-and-cheese-couple, who reminded me of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in the film of Neil Simon's play "The Odd Couple" - complete opposites living a 'can't live with you but can't live without you either!' kind of existence, which is farcical and funny, but with Beryl Bainbridge there is a much more acidic, sharper, and very, very, bitter taste to the comedy - this is the sort of comedy that's just as likely to make you w ...more
James Barker
I'm a fan of Beryl, particularly because I love the way she captures working class life through the ages, so it was something of a disappointment to find this factory-based black comedy falling somewhat short of her usual success.

It starts well. The two female leads, boisterous bombshell Freda and her timid flatmate Brenda, are shown living a dismal life of unfulfilled dreams on the edge of destitution, which would seem to be the lot for northerners in London back in the 1960s (and beyond). The
Feb 05, 2017 Bert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think i am a bit in love with Beryl, and am pretty excited about slooshing through my to-read pile of her books. This was great, very Seventies, a bit Carry On, with some really spikily funny parts, lots of groping, people being weak and calculating and petty and feeble, and a coldness and darkness that was also pretty funny.
Saya Hashimoto
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roger Pettit
Oh, dear! I had such high hopes of this novel. The edition that I have just read has printed on its cover laudatory comments about the story by such literary heavyweights as Graham Greene and William Trevor. The former describes "The Bottle Factory Outing" as "an outrageously funny and horrifying story". In addition, the novel was shortlisted for the UK's most prestigious literary award - then known as The Booker Prize. And, it has apparently been cited by The Observer newspaper (a Sunday broads ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Rock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
With perhaps the least romantic confluence of English words ever conceived for a title, this novel isn’t likely to inspire an expectation of setting your short and curlies aflame, though why this would ever necessarily be a good thing remains debatable. The premise is not apparently promising: two women room together in a dreary boarding house, work at a wine-bottling factory, and go on a planned Outing (archly always capitalized) to the country with their fellow industrial serfs. It's like Lave ...more
Apr 01, 2017 Fiona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
My first Beryl Bainbridge and possibly my last unless my Goodreads friends have any recommendations.

Freda and Brenda work in a bottling factory. Both are odd characters, full of contradictions and hang ups, living a sad existence in a grotty bedsit and both uncertain of how they should behave with men. Freda has the idea of a works outing to the countryside. The first half of the book is the build up to this as the mainly Italian workforce and the two women work themselves into a mixture of fren
Apr 25, 2013 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her novel The Bottle Factory Outing Beryl Bainbridge creates a remarkably surreal world out of a deceptively mundane situation. Brenda and Freda are two employees in a British factory that bottles bulk-imported wines, sherries and brandies. Owned by and largely staffed by Italians, the working environment seems to provide the author with a wealth of comic possibilities for the linguistic faux-pas or the cultural misunderstanding. The novel does have its share of both, but does not descend int ...more
Sonya Feher
I only read this book because it was on Feminista's Top 100 Works by Women Authors. Throughout the book, I kept thinking there had to be something more. The Bottle Factory Outing follows Freda and Brenda, two roommates who work at a wine bottling factory. They are an anomaly because they are British, while the rest of the workers are Italian, and they are two of three women who work in the factory. While both Brenda and Freda are somewhat interesting character studies in that Brenda is a liar, s ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Meredith rated it did not like it
The Bottle Factory Outing is listed in The Guardian's "1000 novels everyone must read," and the premise caught my interest: two mismatched roommates who work at a small wine bottling factory go on a company picnic that irrevocably alters their lives and the lives of their co-workers.
Perhaps because I am not British, the humor was lost on me. This is the story of two zany working-class ladies, one born to wackiness and the other having ridiculousness forced upon her. Freda is a pump outrageous bl
Dec 28, 2013 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group, fiction
Book group again, though I did vote for this one. I was a bit nonplussed by this. Two tragically lonely women live together in a bedsit and work part-time in a wine-bottling factory in London. Surrounded by superstitious and uncomprehending Italian co-workers, Freda lusts after one supervisor while Brenda is regularly subjected to what we would now consider sexual assault by another. At one chilling point Brenda casually and unemotionally recalls being raped while hitch-hiking.

Freda dies in an
23/2 - I don’t really know what to make of this book. It was a quick read, it only took me a few hours to read. I found both main characters completely unsympathetic – Brenda was weak, lazy and seemed completely unable to find any joy or happiness in her life. Freda was cold and unsympathetic towards Brenda, often mocking her and calling her a victim, she is also prone to odd fits of laughing or unnecessary violence. I don’t think I really understood the deeper themes of the book, as I know from ...more
Apr 30, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Bainbridge's novels are like a really tart alcoholic drink. Makes your mouth pucker and gives you some inappropriate giggles. Not the most likable thing but it has a worthwhile effect. The Bottle Factory Outing is a very dark comedy about Freda and Brenda, two women who work at a small Italian-run wine bottling plant in London. Their relationship with each other and the rest of the factory workers are a bit complex and slightly absurd in a rather banal way. Freda organizes an outing to the count ...more
Linda K
Rather distressing, but funny story of two English girls who work at an Italian-run bottling factory. One is being chased by one of the workers that she has no interest in and the other is chasing a worker who is not interested in her. The plot thickens when a long awaited OUTING planned for the workers occurs, with serious consequences resulting.

This book caught my eye at the library as an author I had not read and the story line sounded appealing. It is funny, but sadly so.
Feb 20, 2008 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me a good 30 pages to get into this book, but then I started enjoying it. However, the reactions of the characters to a traumatic even that happens about 3/4 of the way thru are really odd and unbelievable. A well-written book but an implausible and bizarre ending.
Strange story. Starts out very comical and lighthearted then becomes morbid. Not sure if the morbid turn of events is supposed to be comical as well? If so, then I missed something. Good characterization throughout, but no resolution leaves this reader unsatisfied.
Ben Lee
Jun 13, 2008 Ben Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Jones
Jul 27, 2011 John Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely dark and twisted.
Stef Smulders
A very weird book. Up until the main event of the story it is farcical, funny but afterwards it is no longer clear whether it is meant to be funny or not. I haven't got a clue, it is a crazy tale.
Aug 31, 2007 Brent rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disappointments
Too slow and ponderous for my taste...might have helped if I'd had some of the wine they were bottling (but not from the last barrel, of course).
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very dark but funny novel.
Having the knowledge that Beryl Bainbridge’s novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the understanding that the novel was listed as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time by The Observer can consciously and unconsciously color the reader’s immediate expectations when approaching her novel for the first time. Such expectations would most likely be high. But having such high expectations beforehand might lead the reader to become overly critical in their reading, and thereby potenti ...more
Nov 18, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-authors
Beryl Bainbridge made it to the Man Booker prize shortlist a record five times but never succeeded in winning the award. The Bottle Factory Outing, her fourth novel was one of the shortlisted titles in 1974 but was beaten to the prize by Stanley Middleton's Holiday.

Bainbridge's story is set in a small Italian-run factory somewhere in London which bottles wines and some spirits. Freda and Brenda are two members of the workforce , working alongside some middle aged Italians who clean and label th
Apr 10, 2012 Sophia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Te Bottle Factory Outing is set in the early 1970s, and focuses on two young women who live and work together. Brenda is thin, dark and impossibly meek. She's afraid of almost everything, dreads making a fuss or drawing attention to herself and consequently frequently lets others walk all over her. Freda, by contrast, is big and brassy. She has little regard for others' sensibilities, though she has a kind heart underneath, and frequently fights Brenda's battles for her while completely dominati ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This was the first ever Beryl Bainbridge novel I have read. Gaskella’s Beryl Bainbridge reading week has given me a perfect excuse to read a new to me author. Sometimes when approaching a previously unread author’s work, I have some idea of what I might expect, with Beryl Bainbridge I had no preconceived idea at all. I found it quite exciting to come to something so completely new to me.
The Bottle Factory Outing is a difficult book to describe. It is a rather farcical black comedy – some of the
Extraño libro que no sé calificar. Se trata de una novela en que nos presenta a Freda y Brando, trabajadoras en una fábrica de embotellado de bebidas alcohólicas en UK los días previos a la excursión organizada por Freda en la empresa así como lo que sucede durante la misma y lo que ello provoca.

Se supone que se trata de una novela contemporánea en la que se mezcla el humor con el misterio y la excentricidad que existe en la empresa debido a la situación de inmigrantes de la mayoría de los trab
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Dame Beryl Margaret Bainbridge DBE was an English writer from Liverpool. She was primarily known for her works of psychological fiction, often set among the English working classes. Bainbridge won the Whitbread Award twice and was nominated for the Booker Prize five times. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Bainbridge among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
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“At night when they prepared for bed Freda removed all her clothes and lay like a great fretful baby, majestically dimpled and curved. Brenda wore her pajamas and her underwear and a tweed coat—that was the difference between them.” 2 likes
“Life was absurd, she thought, bouncing her up and down as if she were a rubber ball. She longed to lose height and roll away into a corner and be forgotten.” 2 likes
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