Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge

Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge was first published in 1996. Of course the setting is The Titanic and that did put me off a wee bit but I decided to buy it anyway because I like Bainbridge’s writing. I’m the opposite of those many people who are obsessed with all things Titanic. This book won the Whitbread Novel of the Year award.

The book is split up into four sections, one section for each day of the voyage, and it’s narrated by a 22 year old man named Morgan. He has trained as a draughtsman and knows more about the ship than most of the other seafarers. Obviously since he is telling the tale the reader knows from the beginning that he survived the disaster.

Morgan comes from a wealthy family with his uncle being the owner of the bank J.P. Morgan, but he’s an orphan and is somewhat unsure of his place in society. On board he mixes with all sorts of people from the very wealthy to people who have virtually nothing but the clothes they have on their back.

He’s an ideal narrator as it means that the reader gets to know a variety of unusual characters and the reasons for them being on the voyage. I ended up enjoying this one although not as much as An Awfully Big Adventure, which was the previous book by Bainbridge which I read.

Was the sinking of The Titanic the worst ever sea disaster? No, it doesn’t come close, you can read about some others here.

I can understand why people are so interested in the disaster but at the same time it annoys me as it’s the fact that there were so many wealthy and titled people on board with their treasures which attracts them. It’s all very snobby.

I’ve always been surprised that Harland and Wolff, the shipyard which built the Titanic continued in business. I wonder if something like that happened nowadays if the shipyard would survive. I really doubt it somehow, they would be sued out of existence, after all the American airline Pan-Am didn’t survive the Lockerbie bombing. The White Star Line continued in business until 1934 when it merged with Cunard Line. Not that that has anything to do with the book, just my mind going on a wander as usual.

Anyway back to the book, Every Man for Himself is a good read and I’ll be reading more by Bainbridge in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *