Yay! I finished my first title of the #ReadingJanakay’s challenge. And it was a solid start. I’m back to reading many of your wonderful reading adventures and reviews, and you all impress me with how many books you read, and read well, and how many books you review with so much prowess.
As you may tell, I’m back into not just reading, but a bit of photography. It’s easy to grab your phone, the book you want to photograph, and find a spot in your backyard that inspires you.
This is my first book by the author, and I had good preconceived ideas about it. I can see that, even though the book was written in 1945 about people in those same times, during the war, the war, as they say, it’s not at the forefront, but the atmosphere she paints with descriptions and in her dialogues, make it clear that they are in the midst of a not usual times.
The book has many characters as well, but it’s by no means a difficult book to keep up with or to follow. Much on the contrary, I’d say that reading E. Taylor is a smooth experience. She paints great pictures of the happenings and the characters involved. There’s many mentions of books, from the ones that her son Oliver reads, to those she favors. Taylor is not in your face, she lets you be a fly on the wall and be present in these different life vignettes.
Julia, the main character, is the wife and mother, who lives at Mrs Lippincote’s house with her RAF husband, Roddy, their son, Oliver, and Roddy’s sister, Eleanor. Julia was intriguing to me, I don’t think that she fully disclosed her thoughts and emotions, but having said that, we do get to hear her voice, and see her actions and thoughts through the book.
The highlight of this title, to me, was the characterization of the two children, Oliver, and Felicity. There’s moments lived by these two that stand up against the disenchanted existence that’s depicted. This may sound strange, but there’s a book called Jarama, by Sanchez-Ferlosio, (The River in English. Jarama is a river in Madrid) which is a great depiction of Madrid after war, and the tone of both, the atmosphere of different places, but places close in time to this indelible events, Spanish Civil War -1936 to 1939, and WWII, may give those books that similar atmosphere. I also think that Taylor is at the cusp of contemporary writers, breaking off from the more traditional, while Sánchez-Ferlosio is definitely a modern writer. Coincidentally, both are underrated as well.
It’s been said, and I also agree, that the last few pages take on a different pace, a hurried pace, and bring a bit of a forced closure to the whole narrative. It’s as if Taylor, -this is just speculation-, can’t abandon the traditional way of narrating that has at least a main plot, a beginning of the book, and a clear resolution of the different conflicts or plot presented in it. Ending the Japanese fashion, such as The Makioka Sisters, or The Elegance of the Hedgehog, or open ended Ishiguro style, for example, will come later, or maybe it’s a matter of authors preferences. Sánchez-Ferlosio ends more a la Japanese and he is bolder with the form, making the river the protagonist in a way. Taylor almost gets there with Mrs Lippincote’s persona and her borrowed house. Ferlosio published The River in 1955, and ten years can make a huge difference in the progression of an author. Given that Taylor works stretch until 1971’s Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, I’m very excited about reading more of her and compare.