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Every Man for Himself

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  1,442 ratings  ·  163 reviews
The sinking of the world's greatest luxury liner, the invincible and magnificent S. S. Titanic, has captured people's attention ever since that tragic April night in 1912, when 1500 people lost their lives. And no one has better dramatized this memorable event than Beryl Bainbridge in Every Man for Himself.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 12th 1997 by Da Capo Press (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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The story of the maiden voyage of the Titanic is a familiar one, but Bainbridge still managed an impressively fresh reimagination of the personal experiences of a rich young Anglo-American who has been adopted by the family of J.P. Morgan. His journey is somewhat picaresque - he spends most of the voyage scheming, drinking, gambling and chasing women, and any heroic qualities he has only emerge near the end(view spoiler) ...more
There is something endlessly fascinating about the sinking of the Titanic. Perhaps it is the idea that people were going about their business, enjoying their lives, until hours before they were suddenly swept away into oblivion. Perhaps it is the number of blunders that contributed to this disaster and how easily most of them could have been avoided. Perhaps it is the feeling you get that certain events are destined and nothing could prevent it happening, or the indiscriminate way some people su ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short, almost restrained, novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Whitbread Prize when published in 1996. It tells the story of Morgan, a relative of J.P. Morgan, who feels, "destined to be a participant rather than a spectator of singular events". When a man dies in his arms shortly before he is to return to the States, he leaves his uncle's house almost secretly (a stolen picture of his mother tucked away) and gets the milk train to Southampton. For the young man is surely ...more
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: winter, fiction, maritime
This book puzzled me. How can you screw up the Titanic story? But it just did nothing for me, which seems to put my review in the minority. Lots of bland talk, blah blah blah blah. Yup, way to make the greatest maritime incident in history bee-oar-ing...with three syllables. I had to smack myself awake.

Book Season = Winter (maybe the cold will lead you to a gentle sleep)
Courtney Johnston
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction

I wonder if reading this book before Cameron's calculated tear-jerker came out was even more affecting than it was reading it afterwards. Like re-reading Pride & Prejudice this days and trying to keep the text separate from the filmic palimpsest that's layered over top of it, reading 'Every Man for Himself' without seeing Kate and Leonardo running about the place is almost impossible.

The protagonist - an un-named young man closely but mysteriously attached to J Pierpont Morgan - also reminded me

Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bainbridge is definitely becoming a favourite. In this short novel she chronicles the fate of the passengers of the Titanic on their doomed voyage to New York. She focuses mainly on the first class passengers (some real, some fictional). Bainbridge lays bare the secrets and relationships of the rich and privileged as they cross the ocean to return to wives or family or to embark on their career. The tragedy of the Titanic remains in the background for much of the narrative with the characters bl ...more
Mary Durrant
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very moving account of the privileged few aboard the doomed first and only voyage of Titanic, the unsinkable ship.
Beautifully written, you could almost feel the chill in the air and see the stars above!
The last few pages have you drawn into the despair and for some that were still convinced the ship wouldn't sink and just carried on.
Recommended even if one knows what happens.
The writing is exquisite!
Bruce MacBain
May 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a fictionalized account of the sinking of the Titanic, originally published in 1996 and now reissued, as have been so many other books on the subject, to coincide with the centenary of the disaster. Beryl Bainbridge was a distinguished writer and this book either won, or was a finalist for, a number of prestigious awards. It is with some diffidence, then, that I confess that I didn’t like it. The book is nine-tenths over before the ship hits the iceberg and I found myself increasingly im ...more
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is one of the most tightly written books I've ever read. With not one superfluous word, Bainbridge advances the story at an impressive pace and creates tension in a situation where we know the inevitable outcome.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I always think I like Beryl Bainbridge's writing. Then I read one of her books and I find myself struggling to stay engaged and I wonder what is wrong with me - because it can't be her. She's Beryl Bainbridge and I'm just me. It must be me.

I had moments of enjoyment but this was one of those books that once it was put down I had to do a little mental battle to pick it up again. Perhaps it's not a good choice when you're on holiday and there is so much else going on that is fun and distracting?
The voyage of the Titanic as seen through the eyes of an adopted nephew of J.P. Morgan. “I was destined to be a participant rather than a spectator of singular events,” he states. I had some trouble keeping his fellow passengers straight, but I enjoyed the little moments of dramatic irony where people are joking about accidents and praising the ship’s stability. The whole book is strangely detached given its focus on a famous tragedy, but the last chapter, and especially the last paragraph, are ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it
The multiple Oscar-winning film, Titanic, appeared in 1997. Whether Beryl Bainbridge’s novel, Every Man For Himself, was already in the planning before that movie was cenceived is a matter open to conjecture or the biographer. Even if the novelist chose the subject deliberately to coincide with the launch of a blockbuster, the novel has to be read on its own considerable merits, which did indeed include a Whitbread Prize, a nomination for a Booker and a Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. The book’s su ...more
Perry Whitford
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An adoptee of the banker JP Morgan with an orphaned, uncertain past, takes first-class passage on the maiden, and of course only, voyage of the RMS Titanic.

Spent largely in the company of bankers, magnates, and his flighty friends -a vacuous bunch of young socialites, gauche sons and daughters of the great and good- he also comes into contact with members of the working-class from amongst the crew.

As the ship sails inevitably towards disaster, the callow narrator becomes increasingly in thrall
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narrated by a young man called Morgan who is related to J P Morgan who owned the shipping line. Morgan is rich, aimless and seems to attract tragedy. Mysteries about the Titanic and also the passengers surround the few days of the voyage. The sinking of the Titanic was brilliantly written. The calmness of the water, the slow unfolding of events. Written mostly from the first class point of view and captures their tight-knit, elitist world. The novel concentrates on their lives and the disaster i ...more
Please see my detailed review at Amazon Graceann's "Every Man for Himself" Review"

Please click that the review was helpful to you at Amazon so that my rating continues to climb!

Quite a letdown after the excellent prose in Testament of Youth. No character development and nobody worth caring about. I'm glad it was such a short book so that I didn't waste any more time on it than necessary.
Sep 12, 2011 added it
Not the best book I've ever read, really hard going, I found that I didn't really care about the characters. I wanted to read about the Titanic, not a side story and then the last 80 pages or so of when it sank. I love reading about the Titanic but there wasn't enough about it in the book, to be honest it could have been set anywhere. The last few pages where it got to the part about the ship sinking was really good, just a shame about the rest of the book.
Lisa Matheny
Jul 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
This stunk. I just didn't care for or about the characters. I tried to read it or over 70 pages and realized life is short and I shouldn't waste another minute trying to gather interest for her characters. Don't waste your time reading this drivel. I didn't finish the book. I have more important things to do like visit the lavatory.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book sadly bored me, though it did leave me curious about some of the details of the Titanic. The characters were not compelling.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

The Titanic hasn’t held the same fascination for me as I believe it has for others, I’ve never even seen the film as, after all, we all know the ending. Going into this book, therefore, I was interested in the direction Beryl Bainbridge would take, would else she could add to the story that hasn’t been done before.

We follow Morgan, nephew, although indirectly, of J.P Morgan as he embarks on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, going home to New York to perhaps finally decide at twenty-one,
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-be-read
From the beginning it’s clear how these four days aboard RMS Titanic will end.

Morgan (wealthy adopted nephew of a rich banker) has a foot in two camps - first class passenger and a minor role in the design team.

Flaying between social position, purpose and possibly romance Morgan me Scurra. Philosopher, investigator and possible doctor, Scurra makes many claims and explanations throughout the story, which Morgan clings to.

The shifting world political scene is reflected in the human interaction
Mark Hebden
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A disclaimer! I don’t claim to have brilliant taste in movies and so Titanic by James Cameron is one of my favourites. When I was 17 and in the first throes of love, the film gave me an insight in to another world both opulent and past and this book by Beryl Bainbridge has just done the same thing once again. The power of the word as well as the image to conjure up something magical should never be underestimated but the setting is where the similarity ends between book and film.

Every Man For H
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
There was a film on the BBC a few years ago that nearly broke my heart. Beryl Bainbridge, then 70, was convinced she was going to die within the year, given that both her parents had died at 71. Her nephew made a film of those "last" months, following her around London and her hometown, Liverpool. It was beautiful and incredibly sad to see the old lady, wheezing yet still chain-smoking, revisit her past. It turned out she had the dates wrong, and she did not die that year, but that was hardly th ...more
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beryl Bainbridge was very good at writing fictional accounts of historic events. This one is about the maiden voyage and sinking of the Titanic. The characters, conversations and situations she creates blend smoothly into the true story.
The Booker shortlist for 1996 had some very good books on it, this was one of them.
Last Orders (which won),
A Fine Balance (my favourite),
Alias Grace (one of Atwood's best),
Every Man for Himself
and two I have not read, but have been told are also good,
Reading in t
Apr 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book was only OK. Perhaps it simply didn't meet my expectations. I read many comments about the author's skill as a writer prior to reading the book and really did expect something ... different. The book is primarily character driven, but I had a hard time caring about any of the characters. It is a shallow look at the shallow lives of very wealthy first-class passengers. Steerage class passengers hardly note a mention as though not worth the paper and ink. I guess this could be a clever d ...more
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another book about the sinking of the Titanic, although this was told in the first person view of J. Pierpont Morgan who is 22 at the time and wrestling with his own status and future. The majority of the book is set in the four days of sailing leading up to the sinking. It tells about the intrigues, dramas and romances within the first class passengers and reads a bit like a novel of upper class lifestyle. But it is carefully and cleverly contrasted to the final section where the ship goes ...more
Jul 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Just like the other Bainbridge books I've read, this is a short tale dense with sharp observations and moments of odd, often dark humor. In this case, the narrator is a disaffected member of the upper class, and his viewpoint allows us to observe the behavior of the wealthy passengers of the Titanic as the inevitable tragedy looms.

More than for plot, I enjoy Bainbridge's books for their regular servings of commentary on the human condition. I often find myself stopping to ponder some assertion o
Bernadette Robinson
This was an easy enough read and I felt that the atmosphere of the whole event surrounding the Titanic and everything was captured quite well but in some ways I found it lacking if I'm honest. I gave it a 3 stars on there but would probably give it 5/10.

I will try another of her books if I come across one in order to compare them.
Alex Lewis
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
The author won the 1996 UK Whitbread award for the year's best novel. It's one more account of the Titanic disaster, nothing particularly unique or distinguishing.
Brona's Books
Peopled by fictional characters who mixed with actual first class passengers and crew, Bainbridge explored the nature of class and courage and integrity, all mixed up with foolishness and snobbery and the mundane.

Mystery abounds, there are puzzling characters, snatches of overheard conversations, loads of drinking and buffoonery. Our narrator, Morgan spends a lot of time philosophising and pondering his future (even though the story is actually told from this future Morgan's perspective). He is
Amy Clarke
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Last week, I picked up Beryl Bainbridge's Whitbread Novel Award-winning Every Man for Himself: a short, dramatic novel set on the doomed RMS Titanic. Through the eyes of an orphan-turned-rich-upper-class man in his early twenties, we see the days leading up to the great ship's demise in the Atlantic.

Let me just say, I, like many others, am quite obsessed by the Titanic story. I am also incredibly freaked out by the coincidences associated with a novel written 14 years before the ship ever took i
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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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