Friday, January 11, 2008

Elizabeth Taylor, Novelist

John Fanagan recommends the novels of Elizabeth Taylor :-

During last term I was recommended to read her novel Angel (the only Taylor novel we have in the library at present - more are now on the way). I enjoyed it greatly: it was unlike any other book I'd read for a while. Over the holidays, I read three more: At Mrs Lippincote's, Blaming and Mrs Palfrey at the Clairmont (made into a film starring Joan Plowright in 2005).

The more I read, the more I liked her style which is very unadorned, yet elegant and perceptive. She
has, it seems, been for many years (she died in 1975) a writer's writer who has never really taken off as a best seller. Her subjects are simple: in the words of Sarah Waters, she writes about people 'negotiating the ordinary small crises of marriage, family and friendship...small communities, captured for a brief but crucial period of time'. Just like Jane Austen, in fact, with whom she has been compared.

Here is an overview in the TLS by Trev Broughton of the books Virago recently reissued in elegant editions, and here a discussion in the San Francisco Chronicle by Ruthe Stein about how film is addressing Taylor.

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