Saturday 9 May 2009


Amy organises a cruise holiday to help her husband recover from major surgery. While sight-seeing in Istanbul, Amy is bored with the domes and minarets, fed up with the dust and heat and irritable because Nick lingers so long they are always late back to the coach. The final straw for Amy is when her sandal breaks forcing her to shuffle along behind everyone else for the rest of the day. Nick and Amy are befriended by a younger American woman who writes novels and loves all things English. While Nick finds her good company, Amy is not so keen and this causes a furious row ending in a passionate reconciliation. In the night Nick dies and Amy is left devastated. The American woman, Martha, takes control and flies Amy back to England. While Amy is coming to terms with the loss of her husband an unlikely friendship develops between the two women.

I think this is Taylor's finest novel. Although the theme of love and loss is sad, Amy's internal monologue is wickedly funny. Many things irritate or bore her. She doesn't pretend to enjoy babysitting for her spoilt five-year old granddaughter and goes to great lengths to avoid it. Although this doesn't make Amy a necessarily likeable character she is always true to herself which is immensely appealing.

Published in 1976, Blaming was Elizabeth Taylor's last novel and she knew it. There is a nice afterword by her daughter in this edition. Don't make the mistake I did and read it before the novel because it gives away a shocking event which happens towards the end.


kristina said...

I read this ages ago and now can't seem to remember the shocking event--clearly a sign I need to read it again!

I do love Elizabeth Taylor. Have just been reading about the new biography in the Persephone Biannually...

K x

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Kristina

**** spoiler***
Martha suddenly commits suicide. *** spoiler ***
I have to say if I hadn't known this was coming it would have been a shock. I never seem to finish biographies so I probably won't get the Beauman one, but I do want to read more Taylor.

callmemadam said...

I think Blaming is the only one I haven't read! I don't like the new covers much.

StuckInABook said...

I bought this the other day, so encouraged by your review. Just started Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, so Blaming might be next.

JRSM said...

Ah, 'Blaming': a fantastic book! I've been rationing my Elizabeth Taylor, but now I'm in the sad situation of only having 'A View from the Harbour' left to read. She is SO good.

Vintage Reading said...

JRSM, yes I'm saving A Game of Hide and Seek for my summer holiday and then I'm down to just the short stories.