Saturday, 25 December 2010

More Elizabeth Bowen

After her mother's death 16-year old Portia is sent to London to live with her half-brother Thomas and his wife, Anna. They have a beautiful house overlooking Regent's Park and Matchett, the housekeeper, has been with the family for many years and rules the household. Portia is naive and child-like and finds the glamorous Anna and her home imposing and intimidating. When an 'unsuitable' young man takes an interest in Portia she is sent to stay by the sea.

Bowen is wonderful at leaving things unsaid. Although The Death of the Heart is the story of Portia it is Anna who dominates the novel and is by far the most interesting character. I particularly enjoyed the account of her reading extracts from Portia's diary and the Mrs Danvers-like Matchett accompanying Portia to school through a London fog and insisting that she keeps her scarf wrapped around her face and not to swallow any!

I've bought To the North because I plan to read more Elizabeth Bowen but not right now. Sometimes, only Austen will do!

13 comments:

Audrey said...

I agree with you on that! But I'd like to read Elizabeth Bowen, too.

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Bowen is one of those authors I always pick up with good intentions, intrigued by her plots, but have never had much success with. That's one of the things I'm hoping the change come 2011 and I'm planning to start with The Death of the Heart!

Anbolyn said...

I have Elizabeth Bowen on my TBR for 2011 with The Last September, but I want to re-read some Austen also. I think I'll start with Northanger Abbey.

A Bookish Space said...

I have accumulated quite a collection of Elizabeth Bowen books, and read my first one a couple of months ago - Friends and Relations. Sadly I was quite disappointed with it, but am sure to give Elizabeth Bowen another attempt.

Desperate Reader said...

I got very excited by the picture - I have 'To The North' and just need a little push to read it - basically someone telling me how good it is. Will be looking out for your review!

Steph said...

Bowen is an author I feel I should love and yet I've not read anything by her! I have two books at home by her and I keep thinking I need to read them soon but just haven't gotten around to it. Jane Austen, on the other hand, I have no problem making time for! ;)

irisonbooks said...

I should read some Elizabeth Bowen some day!

And yes, it's true, sometimes only Austen will do..

Darlene said...

Happy New Year, Nicola!

Here's to a wonderful year ahead and the joy of a good book.

Lilacs In May said...

I will be adding that to my next book order, thank you.

Thomas at My Porch said...

I read this Bowen back in 2001. Although I enjoyed it then, I think I would appreciate it much more now.

potterjotter said...

Am happy to say I got The Death of the Heart in my Christmas stocking - looking forward to reading it.

Vintage Reading said...

Audrey, I'm just a hopeless, besotted Austen addict!

Claire, please post a review Claire! We need more posts about Bowen in the book blogging community!

Anbolyn, I'm very fond of NA. Not least because it is set in Bath.

A Bookish Space, I'm glad I've read her. Like you, I'm not sure that she will be among my favourite writers.

Desperate Reader, I'm hoping to start it soon - I'll be looking for your review - but I'm going through another JA phase at the moment and once I embark on one I never know how long it will last!

Steph, I've shamefully neglected Bowen for far to long. Don't love her though, admire her as a writer but she doesn't compare with our beloved JA!

irisonbooks, Austen will always be my first favourite!

Darlene, happy new year, look forward to more posts on your beautiful blog in 2011.

Lilacs in May, please post a Bowen review - I look forward to reading it.

Thomas, I like and admire Bowen's writing, but I don't think I'll read beyond the two titles I own.

Potter Jotter, I will be looking out for your review - what a lovely Chrismas present, someone has great taste!

Rose said...

I'd particularly recommend The Last September for anyone wanting to test out whether Elizabeth Bowen does it for you - it's beautifully sharp on that tipping point from adolescence just towards adolescence, and has a lovely elegiac tone.

And - being pragmatic - it's a short book which (I find) is often a good way in...