Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (1947)

"Taylor’s sentences are like Renaissance jewelry, intricate, composed, flawless." From the introduction by Roxana Robinson

"‘A man,’ she thought suddenly, ‘would consider this a business outing. But, then, a man would not have to cook the meals for the day overnight, nor consign his child to a friend, nor leave half-done the ironing, nor forget the grocery order as I now discover I have forgotten it. The artfulness of men,’ she thought. ‘They implant in us, foster in us, instincts which it is to their advantage for us to have, and which, in the end, we feel shame at not possessing.’ She opened her eyes and glared with scorn at a middle-aged man reading a newspaper. ‘A man like that,’ she thought, ‘a worthless creature, yet so long has his kind lorded it that I (who, if only I could have been ruthless and single-minded about my work as men are, could have been a good writer) feel slightly guilty at not being back at the kitchen-sink.’ ". From A View of the Harbour

I completely agree with Roxana Robinson's assessment of the sentences of Elizabeth Taylor, "Taylor’s sentences are like Renaissance jewelry, intricate, composed, flawless."  My first experience with Elixabeth Taylor (1912 to 1975, England) was last year when I read her delightful story about infidelity, "Blush".  I was very grateful when The New York Review of Books offered me a review copy of her 1947 novel, A View from the Harbour.  The novel is set in a run town coastal town in England.  It is a very gossipy novel that focuses on the lives of the residents.  

Taylor is a very acute observer of small details.  I think her remark, from a female novelist who is one of the book's characters, that I quote above will ring painfully true to legions of writers.  

The characters in the story are all connected in one way or another.  Several are working through the consequences of recently failed relationships.

It is the exquiste sentences and the many wonderful observations that made A View of the Harbour such a delight to read.  

Mel u

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