The Bottle Factory Outing is a 1974 novel by English writer Beryl Bainbridge. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize that year, won the Guardian Fiction Prize and is regarded as one of her best. It is also listed as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time by Robert McCrum of The Observer. The book was inspired by Beryl Bainbridge's own experiences working as a cellar girl in a bottling factory after her divorce in 1959.
It concerns Freda and Brenda who by night share a dismal bedsit, and by day work in an Italian-run wine-bottling factory in London. Freda hopes the works outing will provide opportunity for her to capture the heart of Vittorio; Brenda just aims to avoid the clutches of the lecherous Rossi. But the outing ends in tragedy.
Peter Tinniswood in The Times wrote "This is a superb novel. It is taut in construction, expansive in characterization, vibrant in atmosphere and profoundly comic".
Harry Blamires likens Freda's romantic dreams to those of Joyce's Gerty MacDowell in Ulysses and he concludes "Beryl Bainbridge manages plots of escalating comedy and grotesqueness with consummate skill. She is brilliant at scattering humour over seemingly gruesome terrain".
1974, UK, Gerald Duckworth, ISBN 0-7156-0864-9, Pub date 24 Oct 1974, Hardback
1975, US, George Braziller, ISBN 0-8076-0781-9, Pub date Jan 1975, Hardback
1975, UK, Fontana, ISBN 0-00-616618-0, Paperback
1976, US, Signet, ISBN 0-451-07117-4, Pub date 03 Aug 1976, Paperback
1985, UK, Flamingo, ISBN 0-00-654100-3, Pub date 13 May 1985, Hardback
1992, UK, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-015696-8, Pub date 26 Mar 1992, Paperback
1994, US, Carroll & Graf, ISBN 0-7867-0146-3, Pub date 06 Sep 1994, Paperback
2001, UK, Gerald Duckworth, ISBN 0-7156-3081-4, Pub date 22 Feb 2001, Hardback
2002, UK, Soundings Ltd, ISBN 184283231X, Pub date Mar 2002, Audio (read by Julia Franklin)
2010, UK, Abacus, ISBN 0-349-12371-3, Pub date 02 Sep 2010, Paperback
A BBC sponsored film adaptation was planned in 1991 starring Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders with a script by Alan Plater, but the project was never made.
Beryl Bainbridge talks about her inspiration for The Bottle Factory Outing, one of her most renowned titles. First broadcast in The Book Programme on BBC2, 15 June 1976.
Review from savidgereads
Bottling Things Up, or Bottling Out review by Gaskella