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An Immaculate Mistake: Scenes from Childhood and Beyond

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In this slim, unpretentious memoir, prizewinning author Paul Bailey (Gabriel’s Lament) transforms whimsical childhood recollections into a gentle indictment of his native Britain. From the discarded copy of Nicholas Nickleby brought home by his road-sweeper father to the mismatched furnishings ”passed on” by his mother’s rich employers, the boy who dreamed of playing Hamlet at the Old Vic had his station subtly drilled into him. Bailey learned dignity, but he also discovered where tolerance drew its lines: ”I was a Battersea pansy, wary of displaying his true colours in the sunlight.” In return, An Immaculate Mistake: Scenes from Childhood and Beyond‘s velvet outrage seems extraordinarily generous.

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