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The Heat of the Day

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It is wartime London, and the carelessness of people with no future flows through the evening air. Stella discovers that her lover Robert is ... Show synopsis

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Overall customer rating: 4.000
g1e2l3i4o5t

Bowen's Post-war Throw

by g1e2l3i4o5t on Jan 23, 2009

Elizabeth Bowen took a long time to follow up her successful "Death of the Heart" (1939) with a fresh work. When it came, after the war, it gained deserved credit for its descriptions of war- torn London, where Bowen's over-ripe prose fits, I suppose, a broad, decaying subject. Her plot in "The Heat of the Day", however, led her uncertainly into Greeneland territory of spying and class -misunderstanding. The characterisation tends to lose itself in a fog of preciosity and introspection, resulting in a portentousness not underpinned by credible motive or ambition. In the psychological analysis and in the dialogue, the style is so refined and attenuated that it irritates and fatigues the reader, with echoes of James and Woolf not helping at all. We are at once reminded how much more distinguished as novelists they both were than Bowen, whose prominence during her lifetime now seems a bit odd. This novel of hers hasn't worn well. Even so, it repays a perusal, for it is close to a climactic period in history, for which it provides evidence of a sort. Also the scenes set in the country estate in Ireland which in other works gave Bowen some of her favourite fictional moments come off competently.

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