Friday, April 25, 2008

FRIDAYS: The Book You Have to Read.

From Patti Abbott

This is the first of what I perhaps overly optimistically hope will become Friday recommendations of books we might have forgotten over the years. Not just from me, but from everyone. I have asked several people to join with me today and recommend favorite books of theirs. Their blog sites are listed below. I also asked each of them to tag someone to recommend a book for next Friday.

I’m worried that we are letting some great books of the recent past slide out of print and out of our consciousness. Not the first-tier classics we can all name perhaps, but that group of books that comes next. If you read a book that someone recommends, please call our attention to that too. It would be nice to think a recommendation had an impact on someone somewhere.

Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen

If you’re looking for a fast read, this isn’t for you. Bowen's people are keenly aware and the reader must stay right there with her, because hidden among lengthy descriptions of sea air and drawing-room politics are terse asides.

This is a story of innocence betrayed set in the thirties. Portia, an orphan, comes to live in London with her half-brother, Thomas, and his wife, Anna.

It’s Portia’s innocence that causes so much trouble. She isn’t trained to deal with London society or with boys or with the isolation she endures. Anna and Thomas live dull, sterile lives.

Unfortunately for Portia, she falls in with Anna's friend Eddie, who seems to be made entirely of bad motives. Though the plot follows Portia's relationship with Eddie, the novel's real tension lies between Portia and Anna.

There is a stunning romantic betrayal and it sets in motion one of the most moving and desperate flights of the heart in modern literature.

For me this is the best of Bowen’s novels.

For the others go to Patti's Blog


pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, SS. I have her autobiography sitting on my shelf but I never seem to get to it. I also read In the Heat of the Summer (I think that was the title), which was good too but this one was better. That entire generation of quiet, careful, circumspect writers who detailed everyday life is fading away.

Travis Erwin said...

I'm intrigued. Will look for this one when I get the chance.

Josephine Damian said...

Sandra: I put HEAT OF THE DAY on my book club's list but our group disbanded before we could read it. Thanks for reminding me I need to read Bowen, and Patti, that autobiography interests me as well.