Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen

As you know this blog has very few book reviews but having read a World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen my mind was a whirl of thoughts and so rather than keep these thoughts muddled in my mind I thought I'd scribble them here.

Picked up in a second hand bookshop, having heard Elizabeth Bowen's name mentioned on many blogs. From reading the back cover I thought I'd be reading letters of love, oh how wonderful a slim book of love letters. Nothing like it and probably one of the reasons why it took a second attempt to read it. The first time I was commuting and it was a slow forty page read until I decided this was a book to linger over, to let the words roll around inside me, a holiday book.
It is a holiday book, a summer holiday book. When the air around you is hot and stifling. It fits the claustrophobic feel of this book. Minutes, hours, days, months and years to fill. The scene with Lilia, Fred and the letters felt like the rain had come, the atmosphere calmed and all could begin again. But then as you hope a storm will clear the air - this one doesn't.
This book journeyed with me on holiday to rural France with temperatures of 37 degrees. I felt that my view was the French equivalent of this Irish landscape. Staying in a cool house with cool stone walls reminded me of Montefort. A place where everyone knows your movements, business and sometimes even thoughts yet somehow the walls are thick and hold secrets. I finished reading with the sound of two men manually transferring logs with a wheelbarrow in the strong late morning heat  seemed appropriate and fitting.

Throughout I kept beginning the thought 'This could be a lovely quote to store for the blog' but these words were never very long - so often punctured by chance, a sour note or observation.

I shall read another Elizabeth Bowen but feel a rest from her is needed, especially if written with as much unsaid emotion as this. If these are my thoughts on this Elizabeth Bowen what would you recommend as my next read?


  1. "...unsaid emotion." I like that. I've only read three of Bowen's novels but you're so right, they have a way of making you feel completely wrung out by the end of them! To the North was my first experience with Bowen and I fell completely in love with her writing.

  2. I've tried to read Bowen several times, but I feel that she is a hard nut to crack. I always love to see that someone has cracked her, though - it gives me hope that I will enjoy her writing some day too.

    1. Anbolyn - Do give her a go when you've got time to roll the words around. Look forward to reading your thoughts when you do.

  3. Rachel I'm so pleased you enjoyed this. Unsaid emotion is the perfect way to describe the undercurrent of all of her books. So much unsaid, so much atmosphere to be cut through...I love it!

    I agree with Darlene and think you should read To the North next. Though I also think Friends and Relations is very good, but a lot of people don't like it so that might just be me :)

    Hope you had a lovely holiday and are looking forward to starting school again...aaaaah next week!!

    1. Rachel - I shall start hunting for To the north in second hand book shops. All the very very best for next week. Look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on the early weeks.


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