Bernice 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, 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.
Set on Edge (1960)
Madame Sousatzka (1962)
Mate in Three (1966)
The Elected Member (1969)
Sunday Best (1971)
Go Tell the Lemming (1973)
I Sent a Letter To My Love (1975)
The Ponsonby Post (1977)
A Five-Year Sentence (1978)
Spring Sonata (1979)
Birds of Passage (1981)
Mr Wakefield’s Crusade (1985)
Our Father (1987)
Kingdom Come (1990)
A Solitary Grief (1991)
Mother Russia (1992)
Yesterday in the Back Lane (1995)
The Waiting Game (1997)
I, Dreyfus (1999)
Nine Lives (2002)
The Sergeants’ Tale (2003)
When I Grow Up (2005)
I, DREYFUS – Buy it here
Lord Jakobovits has been described by one commentator as Mrs Thatcher’s father confessor. A staunch defender of Victorian values and family life, he has propounded his views with a forthrightness and vigour which have often placed him at the centre of controversy and have given him national prominence. And yet, if extremely conservative on some issues, he can be surprisingly liberal on others, and he is the only Orthodox rabbi of any eminence to have openly expressed his misgivings about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and to have called for territorial concessions in the West Bank and Gaza. He is in fact difficult to categorise, and this vividly written, authorised biography attempts to reconcile the apparent contradictions in his views. It also describes the man, his colourful, vivacious wife, the circumstances and convictions which have helped to shape him, and the communities who identities he has helped to guide. Though not uncritical, it adds up to a remarkable portrait of a remarkable man.
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury reader
PUBLICATION DATE: 11th March 2013
NINE LIVES – Buy it here
The killer’s modus operandi is the same in each instance: strangulation, always with a guitar string, pulled tight from behind until life is taken. And though the murders are happening up and down the country, there is one other similarity that Inspector Wilkins can’t help noticing. Each and every victim is a psychotherapist…Donald Dorricks is on a mission. Nine shrinks to go and his crusade is complete. Yet, even after giving himself up and confessing to the killings, he still protests his innocence. And just as Inspector Wilkins struggles to catch the killer, Dorricks’ wife Verine attempts to understand the reasoning behind the murders. Then as her husband’s tale emerges, it reveals a past peppered with secrets from which Donald had never been able to escape. Until now … A black comedy that mixes whodunit and whydunit, Nine Lives is the unsettling story of a very English murderer – a novel of suspense, strangulation and psychotherapy.
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury reader
PUBLICATION DATE: 31st August 2012
A FIVE YEAR SENTENCE – Buy it here
‘Miss Hawkins looked at her watch. It was two-thirty. If everything went according to schedule, she could safely reckon to be dead by six o’clock.’
But by the day’s end, events have taken a dramatic turn and Miss Hawkins is sentenced to live. Forcibly retired, she is presented by her colleagues with a five-year diary. Programmed since childhood to total obedience, Miss Hawkins slavishly follows her diary’s commands until the impossible happens – she meets a man. As a last reprieve from the horrors of loneliness she embarks on a determined full-scale mission to taste life’s secret pleasures – and pains– until the cup runs dry…
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Reader
PUBLICATION DATE: 4th March 2013
WHEN I GROW UP — buy it here.
In a rare foray outside that natural home, Booker Prize-winner Bernice Rubens penned these memoirs `while I still have a memory’. Poignantly, the highly-acclaimed author, literary bon-vivante and celebrated film-maker died shortly after completing them. She wasn’t quite expecting that but nor, as she reveals in these pages, did she expect to become a writer. It wasn’t the sort of thing that happened to girls born in Glossop Terrace in Splott, the `unmentionable and indisputable armpit of Cardiff’.
In this delightful evocation of her own life, Rubens escorts us, with a flotilla of anecdotes, away from that armpit through her wartime childhood, her first `major folly’ (studying English at University) to stints as a teacher, lady’s maid and actress before stumbling upon a career that bemused her until the end of her days. `What shall I do,’ was her constant internal refrain, `when I grow up?’
Hugely enjoyable. Rubens delivers her life story in the warm, direct, assured style of her novels, slipping into her old style so naturally that you may forget you’re reading a memoir (GUARDIAN)
Rubens was valiant, fierce and humorous … an engaging self-portrait, her memoir is a small triumph (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
Reading Bernice Rubens is like playing grandmother’s footsteps. You just wish that she hadn’t already touched the finishing line (OBSERVER)
Friends and admirers of her work can hear her voice again: sad, funny, indiscreet (DAILY MAIL)
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th December 2006
Buy it here.
THE SERGEANTS’ TALE — Buy it here
Based on a true story, THE SERGEANTS’ TALE illuminates an historical episode, and also has enormous contemporary poignancy.
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2004
THE WAITING GAME
I SENT A LETTER TO MY LOVE – Buy it here
All her life, Amy Evans has struggled against that unkind gift of fate – ugliness. A squat nose stubbed like a plasticine afterthought on her face, a chin too long and eyes straining to meet each other, form a sad picture that dooms Amy to a life of solitude and lovelessness.
Now in her fifties, Amy lives alone with her crippled brother, both prisoners of the hopes and aspirations of their youth. Then Amy makes a final bid for happiness, a last ditch attempt to meet someone she can love … who might love her. Suddenly her life takes on dizzying new dimensions as she explores untrodden paths of sexual awareness in an all-or-nothing gamble for dangerous and delicious success.
PUBLISHER: Parthian Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 1st February 2008
BROTHERS — Buy it here.
This immensely powerful novel follows four generations of the Bindel family as they fight for survivial in a hostile world. From imperial Russia in 1825 they head towards Western Europe, returning finally to modern Russia – where the persecution of the Jews continues. The Bindel family are knit by unbreakable bonds of love and loyalty, bonds which survive conscription into the Tsarist army in the 1830s, the Odessa pogrom of 1871, emigration to the Welsh valleys and to Germany, the Nazis, the concentration camps and the Gulags.
PUBLICATION DATE: 01/01/1988
UK PUBLISHER: Little, Brown
ISBN CODE: 9780349130132