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Posts Tagged ‘elizabeth taylor’

a dedicated man

Back in 2012 I read or re-read all Elizabeth Taylor’s novels along with other readers from the Librarything virago group for her centenary. I also read two of her five collections of short stories, saving the other three for a rainy day. I really hadn’t meant to leave it quite so long to get back to Elizabeth Taylor, one of my favourite writers, although it was nice to have these stories to look forward to. A Dedicated Man was the third of four collections published during Elizabeth Taylor’s lifetime, a fifth collection Dangerous Calm of previously unpublished pieces came out in the 1990’s.

Elizabeth Taylor is a superb short story writer, she observes her characters with a cool and practised eye, highlighting their absurdities, snobberies and everyday concerns.

Reviewing short stories is always a challenge I find, I almost always end up saying either too much or too little (generally the former), when all that’s wanted is a slight flavour. Therefore, I am not going to talk about each story – but pick out a few key pieces for particular attention.

Elizabeth Taylor shows us many sides of English middle class life, a world she understood from the inside. In this collection of twelve stories we meet both the middle aged and young, at home and abroad. In these stories Elizabeth Taylor considers the relationships between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives, between neighbours and that terrifying creature the Englishman/woman abroad. We meet a kept woman marooned in the upstairs of her home when the Thames is in Flood, an elderly woman, ignored, laughed at by her neighbours, befriends a young boy, and we meet Silcox, the dedicated man of the title as he manipulates his way into his dream job.

In the opening story; Girl Reading, we meet fifteen-year-old Etta, staying with her best friend’s family, during school holidays. Etta lives in a small dark terrace house with her single, working mother when not away at school. Her friend Sarah is part of a bigger, livelier family, their larger much smarter home is often filled with interesting guests. It is a world to which Etta desires more than anything to belong. Her mother is suspicious of this family, where it is obvious her daughter enjoys going, and so Etta is a little alarmed when her mother makes an unscheduled appearance during her latest visit.

“Mrs Salkeld had contrived the visit because she wanted to understand and hope to approve of her daughter’s friends. Seeing the lawns, the light reflected from the water. Later this large, bright room, and the beautiful poppy-seed cake the Hungarian cook had made for tea, she understood completely and felt pained. She could see then, with Etta’s eyes, their own dark, narrow house, and she thought of the lonely hours she spent there reading on days of imprisoning rain.”
(from Girl Reading)

In the title story A Dedicated man, Silcox, a waiter at a seaside hotel persuades his junior waitress colleague Edith to masquerade as his wife, in order that they can swap their positions at a tawdry holiday hotel for the Royal George Hotel in the home counties, well away from the sea. The two must learn how to live modestly together in the room provided to a married couple. Knowing little about each other, and living uncomfortably closely, all for the sake of a job which better suits their snobby pretensions . Silcox and Edith had resented waiting on loud mouthed, sunburned holiday makers in their indecent holiday clothing.

“In Edith’s new life there were one or two difficulties – one was trying to remember not to fidget with the wedding ring as if she were not used to wearing it, the another was being obliged to call Silcox ‘Maurice’. This she thought unseemly, like all familiarities, and to be constant in it required continual vigilance. He. Being her superior, had called her Edith from the start.”
(from A Dedicated Man)

In As if I Should Care we meet probably the least likeable character in the whole collection, and yet Rita is brilliantly drawn in all her unpleasant selfishness. A young girl of older parents, Rita learned a secret about her birth, some years earlier, which she has kept to herself and brooded on ever since. Over the years, Rita’s resentment towards her parents, and grandmother at home has grown. Now working at a hair salon, she spends her money sending off for suede jackets, goes out to dances, and fantasises about going to Canada. At home her father lies ill in his bedroom upstairs, Rita is aware that her mother has not revealed to him the seriousness of his illness. With shocking callousness and unconcern, Rita finds a way to use this to her own advantage.

Two stories, The Voices and In the Sun depict the English on holiday abroad. In the first story, Laura alone in her hotel room listens to the voices of the two women in the room next door. Through the snatches of their conversation she lives their holiday vicariously, comparing it to her own rather unfulfilled experience. In the next story, In the Sun,two couples, the Troughtons and the Crouches meet on holiday in the sun, swap stories and embark on that kind of temporary holiday acquaintance which will end with the holiday itself. Deirdre and Bunny Wallace; a third couple arrive and become the focus of speculation by the first two couples. Their observations and surmises are based solely on their own prejudices and snobberies. Deirdre is similarly taken to passing judgement on her fellow guests.

“People come out here,’ said Deirdre, glaring at the bodies about her, ‘and bake themselves all day, only glad if they can go back home the colour that they punish other people for being.”
‘So true’ said Bunny.
Without discussing where they should sit, they moved apart from the others and spread towels out on the sand. Bunny removed his hat and shirt, and went trotting down to the sea, his crooked arms jerking back and forth like a long-distance runner’s.”
(from In the Sun)

Such brilliantly astute observations like this of how people behave in different situations, for me show Elizabeth Taylor’s genius. She allows her reader to develop their own relationship with the characters and story, in the way she stands slightly removed from them. These stories are simply brilliant, compulsively readable and make me want to re-read all those exceptional novels again. Before I do though, there are two more volumes of stories I have yet to read.

Eliztaylor

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Eliztaylor

During 2012 I have read all twelve Elizabeth Taylor novels and two volumes of short stories, this was due to the Librarything Virago group’s readalong of all Elizabeth Taylor’s novels for her centenary year. This wonderful reading event was hosted overall by Laura, who did a fantastic job of enthusing and organising us all. As the end of the year approaches I have been reflecting on a wonderful reading event. Several of the novels were re-reads and I enjoyed reading those just as much as those books I was reading for the first time. Each month we read a different Elizabeth Taylor novel, reading in the order of publication, with each book hosted by a different blogger or guest blogger across a variety of wonderful book blogs.

taylor novels
In January we read At Mrs. Lippincote’s (1945) – although as I had only read it a year before – I didn’t re-read it until a few weeks ago. A very autobiographical novel, I found I liked Julia more on a second reading.
In February Palladian (1946) which Elizabeth Taylor pays homage to the works of the Brontes, Jane Austen and Daphne Du Maurier in her unusual story of Cassandra who goes to work for a reclusive widower in a peculiar household. This novel was particularly memorable for me, due to one particular scene, which is devastatingly dramatic but written with such brilliant subtlety, that it made me gasp.
In March it was A View of the Harbour (1947) I loved the setting of this novel, and some of the minor characters remain as memorable for me as the major ones. Particularly Mrs Bracey – (I thought her very Austenesque) who watches her narrow world from her window, judging everyone who passes by.
In April we read A Wreath of Roses (1949) another re-read for me, which contains my favourite opening sentence or two I think of all Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, it was just so beautifully atmospheric, and so wonderfully Elizabeth Taylor.
In May we read many people’s favourite Elizabeth Taylor novel A Game of Hide and Seek (1951) another very autobiographical novel, it is chiefly about adultery. However there are some wonderful child characters, and it is deeply moving. It certainly is now my favourite, and I am looking forward to re-reading it one day.
In June we read The Sleeping Beauty (1953) Another novel set in a seaside town which contains some marvellous self-righteous middle aged women, more evidence of how brilliantly Taylor writes her minor characters, making them as fully fleshed out and memorable as her central characters.
In July it was Angel (1957) considered by many her most brilliant novel, the second time I had read this one too, and though it will never be my favourite Taylor, it is a fascinating piece of writing. Elizabeth Taylor’s one historically set novel, her monstrous creation, Angellica Deverell is truly unforgettable, yet at the end despite her monstrosity she becomes almost sympathetic.
In August we read In a Summer Season (1961) another re-read for me, which had previously been my favourite before being eclipsed by A Game of Hide and Seek. It is a beautifully sensual work, it sizzles subtly with the scorching summer in which it is set, and is still one of my favourites.
In September, it was my turn to host with The Soul of Kindness (1964) I really enjoyed this novel, In Flora we have another monstrous creation, although she is a quieter monster her effect is still as devastating.
In October we read The Wedding Group (1968) which is probably my least favourite Taylor, though it is fascinating – and felt really quite Murdochian to me, it has an odd artistic community which is based upon a household Elizabeth Taylor herself spent time in.
In November we read Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (1971) A second reading of this for me again, and I had enjoyed it hugely the first time around, but this time, loved it even more, and was terribly moved by this honest portrayal of a woman growing old in a hotel where elderly people go to live – but “aren’t allowed to die there” – it has become another firm favourite.
In December we read Blaming (1976) another re-read for me. Blaming was in fact the first ever Elizabeth Taylor novel I read, and I enjoyed re-revisiting it, published after her death, it shows Elizabeth Taylor was still at her writing best when she wrote this novel, knowing full well that she was dying. It also contains some marvellous child characters.
Back in April my friend Liz and I went to Reading for the day, to attend a Elizabeth Taylor day at Reading Library. We met up with a few friends from the librarything Virago group, and indulged our love of Elizabeth Taylor fully. There were some wonderful speakers, and discussion groups and the day became one of the highlights of my year.
Elizabeth Taylor was in fact a wonderful short story writer too, and luckily for her fans published five volumes of short stories (four during her lifetime)
Hester Lilly (1954)
The Blush and Other Stories (1958)
A Dedicated Man and Other Stories (1965)
The Devastating Boys (1972)
Dangerous Calm (1995)
During 2012 I read The Blush and Hester Lilly and was delighted to be sent Virago’s latest edition of Elizabeth Taylor’s complete short stories in the summer. I would heartily recommend it to anyone; Elizabeth Taylor was in my opinion a masterly short story writer – which is why I have left some of the stories to read in 2013.
It has been a fantastic year for fans of Elizabeth Taylor and I am going to miss her terribly. We do have Barbara Pym to look forward to – and I hope she manages to fill the void left by Elizabeth – we will see.

I hope I (along with many other entusiasts)  have encouraged other people to try Elizabeth Taylor – it is amazing to me that there are people who haven’t heard of Elizabeth Taylor – the Engish novelist.

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blaming

The final novel in the Librarything Virago group’s yearlong centenary readalong, it has been a fantastic reading event. Pop over to Laura’s blog to read Libraything member Dee’s post about what we have read and what we all thought.
Blaming was Elizabeth Taylor’s final novel written in something of a hurry during her final illness, when she knew that she was dying. It is a novel much more character driven than plot driven – as I think is much, if not all of her work. It is a novel about guilt, bereavement and blame.
Amy is a very recognisable Elizabeth Taylor character. Middle aged, middle class, she is often reserved, holding back her thoughts and feelings, taking little interest in people around her. While on holiday aboard ship with her husband Nick, Amy is suddenly widowed, left stranded and bewildered in a foreign country. Incapacitated by grief Amy is befriended by Martha an American writer, a little odd and certainly the type of woman who Amy would generally have had little time for. However Martha takes charge of Amy, accompanying her back to England, even though it means cutting her own holiday short. Once home, Martha proves rather difficult to shake off. Amy is surrounded by people, her son James and his wife Maggie with their two “little girls” the superb Isobel and Dora (brilliant child characters again from Elizabeth Taylor – she knew children so absolutely. Ernie Pounce a kind of male housekeeper who with his new false teeth and slight hypochondria loves nothing more than to fuss around after “madam,” and Gavin, physician and dear old friend, the widower of her one time best friend, calls in regularly. Amy feels no need of Martha, but feels guilty after the care Martha took of her, and allows Martha to visit. However it appears that Martha has some need of Amy, she is a rather lonely figure, happy to push herself forward, inviting herself to Amy’s house, questioning Amy and Ernie about their lives with no embarrassment – seemingly unaware of any awkwardness. Martha soon becomes a regular part of Amy’s life, and Amy finds she has rather less need of James and Maggie, much to their obvious relief. However when a vulnerable Martha herself is in need of support – she is tragically let down by Amy.
Often in Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, it is the peripheral characters that provide the humour that she injects so beautifully even into her more poignant works. In Blaming the gentle humour is provided by Ernie, and Amy’s grandchildren, the “little girls”

“To the children, first thing next morning, Maggie said, “I’m afraid dear Grandpa has died.”
“And gone to heaven,” Isobel said, as if her mother had left something out.
Maggie slightly inclined her head, not to be caught telling a lie by the God she did not believe in.
“And-Gone-To-Heaven” Isobel shouted, standing up, outraged, in her little bed.
“Yes of course.”
“Not everyone goes to heaven,” Dora, who was older said, “Egyptian mummies didn’t go. Or stuffed fishes.”
“No fishes never go,” Isobel agreed “sometimes I eat them. Chickens can’t go nor”
“I don’t really know about heaven,” Dora said in her considered way. “We haven’t done that at school yet. But I know they must go somewhere, or we’d be full up here. People coming and going all the time”

Published after her death this novel brings to a close the work of a remarkable writer; it seems a fitting note to end on. There is an obvious reflective poignancy to this novel, in her brilliantly understated way Elizabeth Taylor draws a discreet veil over her own work. In the afterword to my edition Joanna Kingham writes very movingly about her mother’s battle to finish this novel and the true story behind one of the incidents involving the children.
Incidentally did anyone else notice the marvellous homage to Jane Austen in the scene between James and Maggie at the beginning of Chapter 5? As soon as I read it this time (I know I missed it the first time I read Blaming) I thought ‘oh that’s just like in Sense and Sensibility!’ – And sure enough Jonathan Keates in the introduction to my edition (I read introductions after the novel) draws attention to the very same thing.

Eliztaylor

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mrslippincotes

Back in January when the Librarything Virago group read At Mrs Lippincote’s I didn’t read it as it had only been a year since I read it previously. However I had wanted to read all Elizabeth Taylor’s novels in 2012, her centenary year – so this is the first of two Elizabeth Taylor novels I will be reading during December.

At Mrs Lippincote’s was Elizabeth Taylor’s first published novel, when it came out in 1945 – Elizabeth Taylor was a woman in her thirties, a wife and mother, a woman who had already had an adulterous relationship. These things are among some of the key ingredients to all of Elizabeth Taylor’s writing, and in At Mrs Lippincote’s Elizabeth Taylor sort of sets out her stall – her world and it’s everyday preoccupations is one readers of her work return to again and again. This is a novel that has often said to be really quite autobiographical, in Julia, we have a character in who, I think Elizabeth Taylor could see herself. Yet Julia isn’t automatically a likeable character (although I found I liked her much better this time of reading). I like to believe that she was an exaggerated facet of just one side of Elizabeth Taylor, after all, we all have sides to our natures that are less attractive than others.

The novel opens as Julia her husband Roddy and their child move, along with Roddy’s cousin Eleanor, to a new house. The house is not their own, but belongs to Mrs Lippincote, a woman whom they have yet to meet. Roddy in the RAF is stationed nearby and has requested that his family join him. Julia feels the strangeness of living in someone else’s house right away, and this sense of displaced unease pervades the whole novel. Julia is not particularly warm, but she is very believable – a not very happy woman, married to a conventional man, Julia is not always conventional herself, she finds the things she must do difficult at times, and sometimes says exactly what she thinks. Elizabeth Taylor gives free rein to her brilliant wit in the terrible things Julia says, especially about Eleanor’s friend Mr Aldridge who has received a terminal diagnosis. School teacher, Eleanor – Roddy’s cousin, following a breakdown has been living with the couple and their son Oliver (a brilliant child character who reads English classics far beyond the scope of most children his age). Eleanor’s dissatisfaction with life drives her into the company of a group of Marxists, who she feels at home with, and yet feels unable to commit to fully.

I think this extract goes a long way to explain the complicated state of play with Julia, Roddy and Eleanor.

“I should like to meet this kind Wing Commander,” said Julia. “Now, he really is high up, isn’t he?” Eleanor, who thought this vagueness about rank an affectation looked sideways at Roddy. “He’s the boss, my dear,” said Roddy, with simple devotion, so that Julia half expected him to cross himself.
Eleanor thought what a splendid thing it would have been for Roddy to have had some woman behind him to make his career her life’s work, and to be an inspiration and incentive to him. ‘To understand him, in fact,’ she added grimly for her own benefit. ‘That is what spinsters in books are always thinking about other women’s husbands.’ She tried not to behave like a spinster in a book. Her sense of humour saved her she believed. She put up a good fight and fell into only the less obvious traps, but she bothered a little more about her dignity, and her position, than do the majority of married women, and betrayed herself by what Roddy called her ‘little ways’, by which he meant the trivial comforts, consolations, cups of tea and patent medicines, small precautions against draughts and a gentle fussing which grows insidiously upon and characterises those who have neither husband nor children to cherish and only themselves to put first.”

Roddy’s boss the Wing Commander is rather taken by Julia, the two strike up and odd friendship, he drops in to tea, they discuss the Brontes, and later young Oliver becomes great friends with Felicity the Wing Commander’’ daughter. Julia flirts, fairly safely with, first the Wing Commander, and then Mr Taylor – a restaurateur she and Roddy had known slightly in London. Yet surprisingly it is ultimately not Julia’s loyalty that is in question. At Mrs Lippincote’s is not my favourite Elizabeth Taylor novel, but it is a wonderfully complex and yet subtle exploration of middle class people during wartime.

 

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“Mrs Palfrey first came to the Claremont Hotel on a Sunday afternoon in January. Rain had closed in over London, and her taxi sloshed along the almost deserted Cromwell Road, past one cavernous porch after another, the driver going slowly and poking his head out into the wet, for the hotel was not known to him. This discovery, that he did not know had a little disconcerted Mrs Palfrey, for she did know it either, and began to wonder what she was coming to. She tried to banish terror from her heart. She was alarmed at the threat of her own depression.”

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor’s penultimate novel is therefore the penultimate read of the librarything Virago Group’s Elizabeth Taylor centenary read along. Although, as I didn’t re-read ‘At Mrs Lippincotes’ in January with them, I may read it next month along with Blaming so I will have read all the novels this year.
I have heard it said, that one’s first reading of a novel is the most intense, but I don’t always find that to be the case. Certainly with my own re-reading I have found the reverse to sometimes be the case. When I first read this novel I enjoyed it hugely and was certainly looking forward to reading it again. I hadn’t expected however, to be so exceptionally moved by it, or to find myself thinking about it throughout the day whilst at work, it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what was coming.
Having spent so much time thinking about and reading the works of Elizabeth Taylor this year, I feel as if I have got to know, in some small way at least, the woman that she was. It may have been this that made this reading of the book so poignant. Laura Palfrey is a woman so much set in the Elizabeth Taylor mould that I recognised her instantly, it may have been just my fancy, but in her I saw glimpses of the younger women who had come before, it was as if I couldn’t bear what she (they) had become. In 1971 when this novel was published, Elizabeth Taylor was only 59 – certainly not old, although she must have been in some way aware of the passage of time and her own ageing – she was only to live 4 more years.
As the novel opens Laura Palfrey, the widow of a colonial administrator, having enjoyed a blissful retirement with her husband in Rottingdean, before his death, comes to the Claremont Hotel. Such places like the Claremont exist no longer, yet there is a peculiar familiarity to them. A genteel hotel, that offers reduced rates to the elderly residents who take up permanent residence there. Here she joins a small group of other elderly residents – with nothing in common but the Claremont, and the peculiar rules and daily routines. These are a wonderful group of eccentrics – Elizabeth Taylor is always so brilliant with her more minor characters – Mr Osmond with his risqué stories, Mrs Burton with her mauve hair and her drinking, the arthritic and bossy Mrs Arbuthnot. Hotel meals and visitors are given particular importance and no one wants to be seen as the poor old soul with no visitors. When fellow resident Mrs Arbuthnot discovers that Mrs Palfrey has a grandson in London, Mrs Palfrey feels rather duty bound to produce him. However Desmond never arrives.
Then Laura meets Ludo. Ludo is a young aspiring writer and former actor, who spends his days in the famous banking hall at Harrods where he keeps warm and works at his writing. There is a story well known to Elizabeth Taylor fans that the character of Ludo, was based on writer Paul Bailey, who Elizabeth Taylor had watched from afar as he carried out his job at Harrods around the time his first book was published. Paul Bailey has since written several of the introductions to the Virago editions of Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, and he recounts the story in his introduction to this one. Ludo comes to dinner at the Claremont and is a big hit with the other residents; he soon begins to eclipse the real Desmond in Mrs Palfrey’s mind.
In Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont – Elizabeth Taylor has given us a deeply poignant, beautifully written novel, that I feel must have given her chance to have a deeply personal look back over her own life.

“They became more and more to one another and, in the end, the perfect marriage they had created was like a work of art. People are sorry for brides who lose their husbands early, from some accident or war. And they should be sorry, Mrs Palfrey thought. But the other thing is worse.

Mrs Palfrey is helped by Ludo after a fall, and in her gratitude they strike up an odd sort of friendship. Odd because Laura is rather smitten with young Ludo, and persuades him to impersonate her grandson Desmond so she can save face back at the Claremont.
There are moments in this novel, which I felt to be really rather Brookneresque – such pathos and loneliness, the bleakness of an empty Sunday, the emptiness of certain London suburban streets. However there is a warmth to Elizabeth Taylor’s writing – even when it is sad – that I don’t think Brookner can reproduce.

This is simply a beautiful novel, and everyone should read it.

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Elizabeth Taylor’s tenth novel first published in 1968 is not among her best and yet I enjoyed it enormously and I think there is plenty in it that is still interesting.
The novel centres on Cressy – a young girl who has been brought up in an odd communal family, a sort of religious/artistic community, presided over by her grandfather Harry Bretton. Like several of the characters in this novel Cressy is somewhat isolated – she wants to escape her family.

“Time always went slowly for Cressy, now that her school days were over. She had come home from the convent to nothing. To be part of a busy, useful, self-sufficing community, her mother had said… She would be expected to marry. Whom? Perhaps one of young men who come to work in the studio with her grandfather. They would live pennilessly in one of the out-buildings (restored) and take their place at the long dining table. She visualised it with the greatest ease.”

In order to make her escape Cressy finds a job and a small flat at an antique shop in the nearby village. Here she lives on things on toast and meets David – a local journalist who is several years older than Cressy. David’s mother Midge long separated from her much older husband relies on David’s presence in her life, while he is thoroughly tied to her apron strings. David’s father lives in his own self-imposed isolation in London, caring for his eccentric aunt until her death; he spends his time cleaning the silver. Midge likes the way things are and doesn’t much care for it to change. As David and Cressy begin to grow closer, Midge takes Cressy under her wing, and yet is unprepared for the inevitable engagement. When David is away from home, Midge is terrified, she is lonely afraid of burglars and works to manipulate these new changes to suit herself. She urges David and Cressy to live in a small broken down cottage, terribly overgrown that has the advantage of being isolated from everyone else but is very close to her.
Cressy is unprepared for grown up responsible living – she becomes more and more reliant upon Midge who is happy to help. David is equally unprepared for the responsibilities of marriage; he had rather unceremoniously finished a relationship with a rather acerbic woman closer to his own age in order to marry Cressy – who he often thinks of as rather a child.
As with so many Elizabeth Taylor novels marriage and loneliness figure strongly, the writing is good – although maybe not quite as good as in some of Taylor’s earlier novels, and I didn’t think the peripheral characters were as strongly explored as in many other novels. I was interested to note how Murdochian this novel felt in parts – especially the beginning. The artistic/religious community headed up by a rather elusive patriarch, a complex family living at close quarters. A few eccentric characters – particularly David’s father and his Aunt, two characters are even writing books (there is almost always someone writing a book in Murdoch). Having read 25 and a half of Iris Murdoch’s 26 novels I was pleased to note these little things.

(Just for fun – can anyone guess which Murdoch novel I got to p204 and wanted to hurl across the room and gave up on?)

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So then October is just around the corner – where did September go? My month of hosting the Librarything Virago group’s reading of The Soul of Kindness is almost up. I have really enjoyed my hosting – and I also enjoyed the book – which unfortunately not everyone did I don’t think.

The Soul of Kindness is not Elizabeth Taylor’s best novel – but she was such a good writer and observer of people that it still has much to recommend it. Flora, who is the soul of kindness of the title, is a character who is terribly deluded – the reader wants her to come to some sort of realisation at the end, and the fact that she doesn’t is something some readers didn’t like. I have to admit I did like it – yes I said I liked it that Flora didn’t change. There was no eureka moment – aided by the people around her she continues in much the same way as she always has – with poor Mrs Lodge her housekeeper destined to remain with her, despite desperately wanting to live out in the country. I liked this ending because it is more interesting – and frankly more like life. There are too many books out there already – where everybody learns a valuable lesson and tearfully promise to mend their ways. Have you ever known someone who annoys or upsets people around them frequently without ever knowing they are doing it? Yes? And do they ever suddenly come to the terrible realisation of the truth and change their ways? – no never! Elizabeth Taylor understood people, and so that, I believe is why Flora doesn’t learn, because she is who she is and cannot change, just as all the people around her who have always allowed her to be that person, remain themselves and so things just carry on as they always have – just as in life.

So then, now is the time to pass the Elizabeth Taylor centenary baton to Harriet Devine who will be hosting our October reading of The Wedding Group. I haven’t read that one yet, and so I am looking forward to it.
I want to thank everyone who has posted comments and taken part in my first ever blog hosting. Maybe we can do it again sometime.

Here’s some links to reviews of The Soul of Kindness:

 

 

Kaggsy

Laura

Liz

Helen

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