Things go just as you think they might, until an old friend whose wife has also died moves back into the village with his grown daughter. What I appreciated most about this novel is the gentle way of telling the story, the way I related to all of the characters, and the sly humor inserted into every paragraph.
This is Taylors eighth novel and it is about love, but dont let that put you off, it is an interesting examination (and very English). Living with Kate and Dermot is a relative, Ethel who is an ex-suffragette. And negatives: On the way home they quarreled or, rather, she listened to Dermot quarreling with an imaginary Kate, who supplied him with imaginary retorts, against which he was able to build up his indignation. It felt to me like Taylor thought lets crash the thing and see what happens, its all so sudden, but interesting none the less.
The ensemble cast is led by Kate Heron newly remarried to Dermot, a man ten years her junior, after the death of her first husband and made up of her family circle, a few members of the local community, and her late best friends widower and daughter, who return from living abroad about halfway through the book. Meanwhile, Kates twenty-two-year-old son Tom has a Spanish girlfriend and a good job at his grandfathers factory, but isnt sure he wants either. No one is markedly happy; everyone is pierced with longing for better prospects even the local curate, Father Blizzard, whos more High Church than is appreciated round here, and Kates housekeeper, Mrs. Meacock, who longs to travel and publish a book of aphorisms. As Kate realizes about her sixteen-year-old daughter Louisas school friends, They are appalled for us that we are middle-aged.
A close friend of Kate's returns and this stirs up feelings in Kate which cause conflict. The theme of ageing is threaded through the novel.
Family life though, brings complications Dermot has a good relationship with Kates son, Tom, who is working his way up in his grandfathers business and having fun with a string of girlfriends; but he struggles with Kates daughter, Lou, who is back from boarding school for the holidays and hates that somebody else is taking her fathers place and making her mother the subject of gossip. In the second act Kate prepares for the return home of her best friends widower Charles and his daughter Araminta. They have been away since his wife died, they have never met Dermot, and Kate worries that the presence of an old friend, with so much shared history and so many common interests will unsettle him. Although he had not met him before, even as far away as Bahrain he had heard stories, and Kate, writing to tell him of her marriage, had done so in a defensive strain, as if an explanation were due and she could think of no very good one.' She is right, and, quite unwittingly, Tom and Araminta, upset the precarious balance of Kates family. I was particularly taken with Ethel, a former suffragette who wrote gossipy letters to her old friend in Cornwall but also had a practical and unsentimental concern for family; with Dermots mother, Edwina, who tried to push her son forward and was inclined to blame Kate for his failings; and with the cook, Mrs Meacock, who experimented with American food and was compiling a book. They all affronted him by cluttering up the earth, by impinging on his thoughts, He tried to drive them away from his secret by rudeness and he reminded Ethel of an old goose she had once had who protected her nest with such hissings, such clumsy ferocity, that she claimed the attention of even the unconcerned., I believed in these people and their relationships; they all lived and breathed, and Elizabeth Taylor told all of their stories so very well. It was love though, and I can explain away all my concerns by telling myself that stories do repeat in different lives and that lives often take unexpected turns, and can be changed by events that are quite unexpected.
I read a biography about Taylor from Persephone Books. I don't know how easy it is to find Taylor's books in other parts of the world.
I love reading books! It was my third novel by Elizabeth Taylor(after The Sleeping Beauty and A View of the Harbour). I simply love Taylor's: --> stories and characters 'A View of the Harbour' showed better her brilliant and observant eye - here my review 'Tom is like those sailors who will not learn to swim, for fear of slow death.' --> her wisdom (especially of human nature) Kate refused to go to bed - for if she slept, she would have to wake up, she said, and that she could not bear to do-to face afresh the grief she was as yet so little used to.
In fact I'd have loved to have read more from the viewpoint of Aunt Ethel as she was biting, witty and whilst writing letters to her friend she summed up the personalities and lives of her family superbly.
Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles) was a popular English novelist and short story writer. Elizabeth Coles was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1912. Taylor's work is mainly concerned with the nuances of "everyday" life and situations, which she writes about with dexterity.