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Book Title: A Five Year Sentence|
Date of issue: December 31st 1991
ISBN 13: 9780349102238
The author of the book: Bernice Rubens
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 365 KB
Read full description of the books A Five Year Sentence:This book's salmon-pink cover, and vague air of twee English provincialism, belie a devastating and utterly ruthless narrative lurking under the surface. A Five Year Sentence puts its characters, and its readers, firmly in a vice – quite openly, without any deception – and then proceeds to turn the screw, rotation by rotation, unblinkingly and deliberately until something goes pop. It is breathtakingly uncompromising.
Bernice Rubens starts with some quite simple, blackly comic elements – the retiring spinster, the overbearing mother, the blandness of suburbia, the tyranny of routine – and with quite extraordinary resolve, she follows them all the way through to the darker recesses of human psychology: sexual deprivation, the need to submit or to dominate, the twisted resentment of parental dependence, the ultraviolence implicit in prolonged frustration. Though such themes are not exactly ignored by writers or filmmakers, they are usually explored by means of photogenic twentysomethings who give them a veneer of titillation. And much as I love veneers of titillation, there is something ferocious about seeing the same ideas made to play out in this handful of damaged, dislikable sexagenarians.
This book really took me by surprise. I was stunned and delighted by the skill and the fearlessness in the writing, even while I was horrified by its effects. It lost out on the Booker in 1978, but for my money it seems even more unusual and worth reading now, when its themes have been so taken over by other, more seductive and less clear-sighted narratives.
Read information about the authorBernice Rubens was born in Cardiff, Wales in July 1928. She began writing at the age of 35, when her children started nursery school. Her second novel, Madame Sousatzka (1962), was filmed by John Schlesinger filmed with Shirley MacLaine in the leading role in 1988. Her fourth novel, The Elected Member, won the 1970 Booker prize. She was shortlisted for the same prize again in 1978 for A Five Year Sentence. Her last novel, The Sergeants’ Tale, was published in 2003. She was an honorary vice-president of International PEN and served as a Booker judge in 1986. Bernice Rubens died in 2004 aged 76.
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