‘Injury Time’ by Beryl Bainbridge – A Demented Dinner Party


‘Injury Time’ by Beryl Bainbridge    (1977) – 203 pages


‘Injury Time’ starts out sanely enough. Edward is a married tax accountant. Binny is a hapless divorcee with three children. Edward and Binny are having an affair. It is the 1970s after all.

Edward feels guilty about Binny.

He gave her so little; he denied her the simple pleasures a wife took for granted – that business of cooking his meals, remembering his sister’s birthday, putting intricate little bundles of socks into his drawer.’”

Binny wonders why Edward couldn’t “pretend that he longed to leave his wife, so that she in return could pretend she wished he would.”

In order for Binny to feel more involved with his life, Edward decides to arrange a dinner party at Binny’s house with his friend Simpson and Simpson’s wife Muriel. Edward must get home by 11:00 PM so his wife does not get suspicious.

So Simpson and his wife arrive that evening at Binny’s house for the dinner party.

As for Simpson, he was just another Edward – too pompous for words. Men were all alike. It was not being involved with children every hour of the day that made them appear to be superior.”

And then everything goes crazy.

First Binny’s woman friend Alma shows up…drunk, and Alma proceeds to vomit all over the floor and pass out.

Then some even more unexpected guests arrive, bank robbers with sawed-off shotguns. ‘Injury Time’ turns from a social comedy of middle-aged passion into a surreal comedic hostage drama with a baby carriage full of cash. When all hell breaks loose, Edward is still worried about getting home to his wife in time.

‘Injury Time’ captures that wildest of times, the 1970s, when things between men and women seemed to go to ridiculous extremes. I do think that Beryl Bainbridge could have better prepared us early on for the unhinged conclusion. However I admire Bainbridge’s willingness to go the dark comedy route rather than settling for a straightforward story.


Grade:   B+




11 responses to this post.

  1. I love this one, one of my favourite Bainbridge dark comedies. Don’t you think the best plot twists are the ones that happen suddenly without telegraphing at all?

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Annabel,
      I guess that was my small complaint with ‘Injury Time’. There was no hint that the novel would turn into this wild and crazy hostage drama. I guess I’m old-fashioned; I still believe in foreshadowing.

      Liked by 1 person


  2. This actually sounds a lot of fun if somewhat bonkers!

    Liked by 2 people


  3. Hmm, maybe not… unless I were in the mood for it.

    Liked by 1 person


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