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According to Queeney
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According to Queeney

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  466 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Bainbridge's brilliantly imagined, universally acclaimed, Booker Prize-longlisted novel portrays the inordinate appetites and unrequited love touched off when the most celebrated man of eighteenth-century English letters, Samuel Johnson, enters the domain of a wealthy Southwark brewer and his wife, Hester Thrale. The melancholic, middle-aged lexicographer plunges into an i ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 14th 2002 by Da Capo Press (first published October 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 964)
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·Karen·


Ms Bainbridge did herself a disservice here by writing herself into redundancy. There is such an overload of names within the first two chapters, names that are not attached to any place, biography or relationship. Nevertheless they are off and running barely clothed as yet: a Mrs Williams questioning him (and no, we don't know who 'he' is yet) when he returns from the Thrales', then falling out with Mrs Desmoulins, taking a tumble and hurting her knee because Mr Levet, so she said, had left his
...more
Shane
Samuel Johnson was a remarkable man in his time. The creator of the Johnson Dictionary, a precursor to the Oxford English version, the man was a critic, poet and intellectual, blessed with a robust constitution and yet plagued by the “black dog” of death and prone to jerky movement now put down to Tourette’s Syndrome.

This book covers the last twenty years of his life when the aging, dropsied and gout ridden giant of letters, failing in eyesight, begins to frequent the company of the wealthy Thra
...more
Fred
This is the second Beryl Bainbridge novel I've read, and I know I'll be reading many more. Because she writes in historical settings and, at least from what I've seen, about very English characters, one has to be willing not to have every detail and reference at hand while reading. One has to be willing to read up at least a little on the central characters (in this case, Samuel Johnson and Hester Thrale) or the central even (in Master Georgie, it was the Crimean War) to best appreciate the nuan ...more
Sibyl
This is a subtle, quirky, funny, tragic book. On one level it is about the life of Dr Johnson and his circle - but I think it's really about desire and frustration. The novel is also about the way in which lives keep being rewritten. Queeney the daughter of Mrs Thrale - who was beloved by Johnson - keeps getting letters from a would-be biographer of the great man. As a 'proper' young woman, Queeny gives unreliable testimony about the events of her childhood. Is this because she remembers a great ...more
TwoDrinks
After reading two thirds I decided I couldn't be chewed to read on any longer because although I had read so much, I was no further on understanding the plot save for becoming more and more irritated with Samuel Johnson. The small asides afforded by Queeney's insolence and devilment were the only rays of sunshine in what was a tedious read. I did, however, like the style of writing. It was descriptive in a way I've not seen before and there were some great passages that I can't be arsed, for rea ...more
Judy
As an admirer of Dr Johnson,I was keen to read this novel about his friendship with fellow-writer Hester Thrale - since reading this I've also read some of her own writings and am now a fan of her too. However, I was disappointed with the novel because I didn't feel its portrayal of either of them was very convincing - Johnson in particular isn't nearly witty enough.

At the time I read it, I noted down that the thing which
disturbed me about it was the pervasive theme of physical decay - there se
...more
Lizzie
Dr. Samuel Johnson, the lexicographer and English man of letters, became friends with the wealthy brewer Henry Thrale and his wife Hester, and lived with them at their country and London homes for seventeen years. What's known is that Johnson and Mrs Thrale had some kind of flirtation; it doesn't seem to be known how far that went. Queeney is the eldest daughter of the Thrales, who observes her mother, Johnson, and other goings on in the strange household.

This book describes a various episodes
...more
Robert Leatherby
Samuel Johnson was not a man I knew much about, but Bainbridge's biopic in According to Queeney brought this eccentric and often difficult character to life.

The first chapter was a difficult read as there are many names mentioned, and their relationships to one another are not initially explained. Once you get past the difficult beginning the book begins to flow nicely.

Johnson is a fascinating character, and this novel focusses on his later years which are plagued by illness and where his person
...more
Catherine
This reads like a well-done sketch for a novel about Samuel Johnson, Hester Thrale and the Thrale family. There are many interesting historical details - Bainbridge's research is quite impressive - but there was no story to pull me in, no characters to get attached to. Bainbridge switches perspectives quite a bit, which gets frustrating, as "Why do I care about this minor character's POV of this event?" I was expecting something more substantial.
Don
This novel succeeds in that it shows how Dr. Johnson views himself in contrast to how others saw him. It is far from a classic, however, because it needs the earlier life of Samuel to enlarge the subject matter. This story begins with a funeral and ends with the same one, basically. The action in between marks a slow march to the grave, and most of it seems insignificant. Samuel who is first presented as insane recovers only to feel remorse for the way he has treated his deceased wife, father an ...more
Bonnie Gayle
This book tells the tale of the last years of Samuel Johnson's (compiler of one of the most influential English dictionaries, among other things) life, focusing on his time spent with the Thrales', and even more specifically, on Queeney Thrales, the eldest daughter of the family.

Reading this book is sort of like the literary equivalent of watching Gosford Park. You start out with an excess of characters thrown at you, none of which you're really sure about, and then as the story evolves, you get
...more
Madelaine
Couldn't finish this (life is too short to read a book I don't enjoy)
Trice
01/17/2011 I started this one yesterday or the day before. These people are all quite horrible, children and famous gent inclusive... but I feel some strange sort of need to finish the book. I'm up to page 134 of 244. There are some pretty hilarious misunderstandings as the author jumps between perspectives, though, and I have to say, Mrs. Thrace seems the most misunderstood of the crowd and, though at least one of the reviewers listed in the front of the book reflects on her as the worst or mos ...more
M.M. Bennetts
This review was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor.

Sometime before 1765, Samuel Johnson–-inventor and author of the dictionary, philosopher, philanthropist, a literary and literal giant of a man–-met Henry Thrale, a wealthy brewer, and his wife. In the ensuing years, Johnson came first to dine and then to reside frequently with the Thrales.

His presence in their home acted as a magnet to those of the London literary world, transforming Mrs. Thrale’s Drawing room into one of th
...more
Fence
This novel may possibly have had a greater impact on me if I knew anything about the life and times of Samuel Johnson apart from the fact that he wrote a dictionary, and of course that the Life of Samuel Johnson was written by Boswell. But I’ve never read it, and so am unfamiliar with Johnson, apart from the broadest of strokes. But while I may be lacking some of that knowledge I still really enjoyed this book.

We see a much different Johnson here than the one I’ve heard of, not a lot of genius s
...more
Kaph
Verdict: A fresh look at the inestimable Samuel Johnson and life in 1764, warts and all. Lots and lots of warts. It’s just warts, really. Possibly improved by doing the pre-rec reading.

I may as well admit to this; I’m one of those people who express (occasionally out-loud and in mixed company) a desire to live in the past. I’ve come to terms with this facet of my personality and it’s time you did too. Typically literature tends to intensify my longing for a TARDIS but Bainbridge decisively broke
...more
Brenda
A new author to me I wasn't sure what to expect from this one. Usually I enjoy novels that are wound around historical figures but in this case it wasn't a page turner for me. This is a story about Samuel Johnson and his contemporaries, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell, Fanny Burney etc. Set during the last 20 years of his life, it explores the relationship between him and the Thrale family, especially Harriet and Queeney - wife and daughter of his benefactor. A point in it's favour for me, at lea ...more
Gary
Beautifully written, engaging, thought provoking, I knew little about the actual people Bainbridge is writing about but it didn't matter, she made all of them come alive with an extraordinary economy.
David
Does for Johnson what The Master does for Henry James, i.e. bring to life a seemingly staid character entrenched in literary history, showing him in his daily life and human interactions, his uncertainties, hopes and fears. Many touching moments, and it’s a very short book too. You don’t have to be a fan of Johnson to get pleasure from it. Sometimes humorous and often whimsical. I think the portrait of Queeney on the cover of my copy is poignant too. She looks bright-eyed and mischievous and ful ...more
Hilary Greenleaf
When you had fathomed out who was who this was a very enjoyable book on many levels. It was for me a lovely insight into domestic life in 18th C London and a fascinating speculation into the lives and motivations of Johnson and the Thrales. It was wonderfully funny and wonderfully sad. Themes of mortality and change were woven into the passing of the years and the title was explained by the subjective and sometimes less than truthful recollections of Queenie in her interspersed letters. Beautifu ...more
Siria
A novella which deals with the later years of Samuel Johnson, his clever, vivacious friend Hester Thrale, and Hester's young daughter, Queeney, who watches their relationship from the sidelines. It's a novel based on much original research, but the tone is somewhat uneven, the diction occasionally wobbling far away from authenticity, and the constant switching of point-of-view, sometimes within the same paragraph, made for disorienting and occasionally irritating viewing.
Paula Dembeck
Dr Samuel Johnson, a man of letters suffers from melancholia and gout. he accepts the invitation from a wealthy southwest brewer Henry Thale to visit his house and spend time there. He meets Mrs. Thale and this marks the beginning of a twenty year relationship with this woman. Queenie is the spirited, precocious daughter of the Thrales, one of ten and it is she who offers her observations on this affair.

Long listed for the Booker Prize.

Not really mu cup of tea.
Bkwormmegs
In enjoyed this book but have a hard time figuring out why I enjoyed it! I loved the way the third party narration was always subtly a character's subjective point of view. The picture of Johnson is interesting - he is pleasure bound, intelligent but childish in the extreme.

"...it had...occurred to her how curious it was that, in order to express themselves, great men constantly relied on the thoughts of those long dead." p12.
David
A witty and sometimes irreverent look at the great man, it portrays Dr Johnson as plain old Sam by people who knew in his domestic and private life. It is accessible and the portrait Bainbridge gives of Dr Johnson certainly lives in the memory. For those who've not read anything by Beryl Bainbridge this novel may well get you starting to look out for her.
Eloise
Interesting, but glad it wasn't longer.
Alison
Mrs Thrales daughter, known as Queeney looks back to the time when Dr Johnson was regular visitor and even lived with the family. did not like this at all. boring and unattractive people and it didn't say anything interesting about real life people. can't think of any good points.
Louise
I didn't *dislike* this book, but then again I didn't really *like* it either. I didn't find the story very exciting, it was just the daily life of the rich and famous 200+ years ago. And the title positively irks me. The book was not really "according to Queeney"!
Camille
I finally finished this book! Finally. I am not sure I understood the, how do you say, point or reason for this book. Not that I am saying it is somehow useless. I think I missed something in the reading of it. Must reread ending to see if anything jumps out.
Claire
India bought me this book because if she hadn't been India, she would have been Queeney (or maybe Queenie). I read it a while ago and am left now with only one over-riding image - that of one of the children who dies of ear ache. Random, but there you are.
Rex Deverell
So this is everything you want to know about Samuel Johnson and more. The research is meticulous - things I thought were fictitious turned out to be based solidly in fact. The novel took me into an era I knew only in the vaguest terms.
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Bainbridge was born in the port city of Liverpool in north-west England. Her agent, and her entry in Who's Who, gave the date as November 21, 1934, but records show her birth was registered early in 1933. Bainbridge herself sometimes said she struggled to remember her birth date, ever since she lied about her age so she could take a trip to France as a youngster without her parents' knowledge.

The
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