Saturday 23 June 2012

Elizabeth Taylor spinning words like glass, PC 4

In the fulsome grass outside the back door here at our holiday house we came upon a very old water pump. Where it is - a few feet from the butler's sink with the lovely window (see postcard 1) - tells  me that it was made redundant some time ago when water was finally piped to the house. But still it stands there cocking its leg against the wall not unlike Barney, our four-legged travelling companion.

Everyone here is reading - from academic studies of  nineteenthe century prostitution to chick-lit. From Ernest Hemingway to Elizabeth Taylor, From Iain Sinclair to Tatiana de Rosnay. The shelves are full, Our Kindles are fully charged.

D (who came by car...) brought Nicola Beauman's engrossing biography of the mid twentieth century novelist Elizabeth Taylor alongside a whole pile of her novels.This writer's reputation is receiving a well merited boost - very welcome in these days of market driven Jersey Shore fiction,

The biography shows her to be a complex, driven woman living in two worlds at once and using the vivid fragments of her apparently domestically constrained life to weave fiction with a comic, ironic edge that tells so much truth about the tacit and also surprising nature of what on the surface might seem conventional domestic relationships,

She is the mistress of involuntary evidence and shows the truth that lies as much in what is not said as what is said. Her restraint and sense of secrecy are hallmarks of her great style.

All this in words spun like glass to a fineness so the reader can see clearly what is tacit, left unsaid.

I have just finished The Wedding Group and will go on to The Soul of Kindness and A Wreath of Roses, Then I will read the biography of Herculine Barbin, the ememoir of a nineteenth century French hermaphrodite.

You can do that on holiday: read at your indiosyncratic will.


  1. it looks Idyllic Wendy - have a lovely break and come back refuelled!

    1. Don't forget my favourite 'Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont' GW

    2. I have it here to hand Gillian. Tomorrow's read. w



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