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Mandoa, Mandoa!

Mandoa, Mandoa!

Mandoa is a small African state. At its head a virgin princess conceives (immaculately) further princesses. The old traditions are undisturbed until the Lord High Chamberlain visits Addis and discovers baths and cocktail shakers, motor cars and telephones. This is 1931.
Poor Caroline

Poor Caroline

Caroline Denton-Smyth is an eccentric, dressed in trailing feathers and jangling beads, peering out from behind her lorgnette. Sitting alone in her West Kensington bedsitter, she dreams of the Christian Cinema Company – her vehicle for reform. For Caroline sees herself as a pioneer, one who must risk everything for the ‘Cause of the Right’. Her Board of Directors is a motley crew including Basil St Denis, upper crust but impecunious; Joseph Isenbaum, aspiring to Society and Eton for his son; Eleanor de la Roux, Caroline’s independent cousin from South Africa; Hugh Macafee, a curt Scottish film technician; young Father Mortimer, scarred from the First World War; and Clifton Johnson, a seedy American scenario writer on the make. Winifred Holtby affectionately observes the foibles of human nature in this sparkiling satire, first published in 1931.
The Land Of Green Ginger

The Land Of Green Ginger

Joanna Burton was born in South Africa but sent by her missionary father to be raised in Yorkshire. There she dreams of the far-off lands she will visit and adventures to come. At eighteen, tall and flaxen-haired, she meets Teddy Leigh, a young man on his way to the trenches of the First World War. Joanna has been in love before – with Sir Walter Raleigh, with the Scarlet Pimpernel, with Coriolanus – but this is different. Teddy tells her he’s been given the world to wear as a golden ball. Joanna believes him and marries him, but the fabled shores recede into the distance when, after the war, Teddy returns in ill health. The magic land turns out to be the harsh reality of motherhood and life on a Yorkshire farm. Yet still she dares to dream.
Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont

Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont

Named by the Guardian as one of ‘the 100 best novels,’ and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont is a humorous and compassionate look at friendship between an old woman and a young man from a ‘magnificent…writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike’ (David Baddiel, Independent)

On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.

Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel.

‘Elizabeth Taylor’s exquisitely drawn character study of eccentricity in old age is a sharp and witty portrait of genteel postwar English life facing the changes taking shape in the 60s . . . Much of the reader’s joy lies in the exquisite subtlety in Taylor’s depiction of all the relationships, the sharp brevity of her wit, and the apparently effortless way the plot unfolds’ -Robert McCrum ‘the 100 best novels’, Guardian
In A Summer Season

In A Summer Season

In a Summer Season is one of Elizabeth Taylor’s finest novels in which, in a moving and powerful climax, she reveals love to be the thing it is: beautiful, often funny, and sometimes tragic.

‘You taste of rain’, he said, kissing her. ‘People say I married her for her money’, he thought contentedly, and for the moment was full of the self-respect that loving her had given him.

Kate Heron is a wealthy, charming widow who marries, much to the disapproval of friends and neighbours, a man ten years her junior: the attractive, feckless Dermot. Then comes the return of Kate’s old friend Charles – intelligent, kind and now widowed, with his beautiful young daughter. Kate watches happily as their two families are drawn together, finding his presence reassuringly familiar, but slowly she becomes aware of subtle undercurrents that begin to disturb the calm surface of their friendship. Before long, even she cannot ignore the gathering storm . . .
Blaming

Blaming

‘How deeply I envy any reader coming to her for the first time!’ Elizabeth Jane Howard

*

A finely nuanced exploration of responsibility, snobbery and culture clash from one of the twentieth century’s finest novelists.

When Amy is suddenly left widowed and alone while on holiday in Istanbul, Martha, an American traveller, comforts her and accompanies her back to England. Upon their return, however, Amy is ungratefully reluctant to maintain their relationship, recognising that, under any other circumstances, the two women would not be friends. But guilt is a hard taskmaster, and Martha has away of getting under one’s skin …

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ Elizabeth Bowen

‘No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy’ Rebecca Abrams, Spectator

‘A Game of Hide and Seek showcases much of what makes Taylor a great novelist: piercing insight, a keen wit and a genuine sense of feeling for her characters’ Elizabeth Day, Guardian
Challenge

Challenge

CHALLENGE was Vita Sackville-West’s second novel. It was ready to go to print in 1920, but the aughor suddenly changed her mind. This was not because she lacked confidence in her work,but because of the scandal it would have caused. CHALLENGE remained unpublished for over fifty years.

Vita’s love affair with Violet Trefusis had reached its peak, and, eloping to France, they decided to abandon everything and everyone – children and husbands included – to spend the rest of their lives together. Although they returned to their families eventually, CHALLENGE remains a testament of their love, and was written during that period.

The hero, Julian, might be a Byronic young Englishman, and Eve the woman he adores; it may be an adventure tale about a revolt on a Greek island. But really, this is a love story, written in the presence of the beloved, and inspired by her. And, as its title implies, the novel is a challenge to the society that condemned Vita and her lover.
Some Tame Gazelle

Some Tame Gazelle

It was odd that Harriet should always have been so fond of curates. They were so immature and always made the same kind of conversation. Now the Archdeacon was altogether different . . . ‘

Together yet alone, the Misses Bede occupy the central crossroads of parish life. Harriet, plump, elegant and jolly, likes nothing better than to make a fuss of new curates, secure in the knowledge that elderly Italian Count Ricardo Bianco will propose to her yet again this year. Belinda, meanwhile has harboured sober feelings of devotion towards Archdeacon Hochleve for thirty years.

Then into their quiet, comfortable lives comes a famous librarian, Nathaniel Mold, and a bishop from Africa, Theodore Grote – who each take to calling on the sisters for rather more unsettling reasons.
Less Than Angels

Less Than Angels

Less Than Angels follows the loves, works and hopes of a group of young anthropologists.

Catherine Oliphant is a writer and lives with handsome anthropologist Tom Mallow. Their relationship runs into trouble when he begins a romance with student Deirdre Swann, so Catherine turns her attention to the reclusive anthropologist Alaric Lydgate, who has a fondness for wearing African masks. Added to this love triangle are the activities of Deirdre’s fellow students and their attempts to win the competition for a research grant.

The course of true love or academia never did run smooth.
A Glass Of Blessings

A Glass Of Blessings

Wilmet Forsyth is well dressed, well looked after, suitably husbanded, good looking and fairly young – but very bored. Her husband Rodney, a handsome army major, is slightly balder and fatter than he once was. Wilmet would like to think she has changed rather less.

Her interest wanders to the nearby Anglo-catholic church, where at last she can neglect her comfortable household in the more serious-minded company of three unmarried priests, and, of course, Piers Longridge, a man of an unfathomably different character altogether.
Palladian

Palladian

Introduced by Neel Mukherjee

‘All her writings could be described as coming into the category of comedy. Comedy is the best vehicle for truths that are too fierce to be borne’ Anita Brookner

‘Elizabeth Taylor has an eye as sharply all-seeing as her prose is elegant – even the humdrum becomes astonishing when told in language that always aims for descriptive integrity, without a cliché in sight. As a result, Taylor excels in conveying the tragicomic poignancy of the everyday’ Daily Telegraph

When newly orphaned Cassandra Dashwood arrives as governess to little Sophy, the scene seems set for the archetypal romance between young girl and austere widowed employer. Strange secrets abound in the ramshackle house. But conventions are subverted in this atmospheric novel: one of its worlds is suffused with classical scholarship and literary romance, but the other is chaotic, quarrelsome and even farcical. Cassandra is to discover that in real life, tragedy, comedy and acute embarrassment are never far apart.
A Game Of Hide And Seek

A Game Of Hide And Seek

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ – Elizabeth Bowen, author of The Heat of the Day

Intelligent and haunting, with echoes of Brief Encounter, this is a love story by one of the best British writers of the 20th century.

During summer games of hide and seek Harriet falls in love with Vesey and his elusive, teasing ways. When he goes to Oxford she cherishes his photograph and waits for a letter that never comes.

Years pass and Harriet stifles her dreams; with a husband and daughter, she excels at respectability. But then Vesey reappears and her marriage seems to melt away. Harriet is older, it is much too late, but she is still in love with him.
The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

INTRODUCED BY DAVID BADDIEL

‘Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor’s novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I’ve returned to her too – in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it’ SARAH WATERS


Vinny Tumulty is a quiet, sensible man. When he goes to stay at a seaside town, his task is to comfort Isabella, a bereaved friend, and and he is prepared for a solemn few days of tears and consolation. But on the evening of his arrival, he looks out of the window at the sunset and catches sight of a beautiful woman walking by the seashore. Before the week is over Vinny has fallen in love, completely and utterly, for the first time in his middle-aged life. Emily, though, is a sleeping beauty, her secluded life hiding bitter secrets from the past.
At Mrs Lippincote's

At Mrs Lippincote's

The debut novel from Elizabeth Taylor – shortlisted for the Booker Prize

*

Mrs Lippincote’s house, with its mahogany furniture and yellowing photographs, stands as a reminder of all the certainties that have vanished with the advent of war. Temporarily, this is home for Julia, who has joined her husband Roddy at the behest of the RAF. Although she can accept the pomposities of service life, Julia’s honesty and sense of humour prevent her from taking her role as seriously as her husband, that leader of men, might wish; for Roddy, merely love cannot suffice – he needs homage as well as admiration. And Julia, while she may be a most unsatisfactory officer’s wife, is certainly no hypocrite.

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ Elizabeth Bowen

‘No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy’ Rebecca Abrams, Spectator

‘A Game of Hide and Seek showcases much of what makes Taylor a great novelist: piercing insight, a keen wit and a genuine sense of feeling for her characters’ Elizabeth Day, Guardian
A Wreath Of Roses

A Wreath Of Roses

Elizabeth Taylor’s darkest novel . . . She writes with a sensuous richness of language that draws the reader down the most shadowy paths . . . Extremely beguiling. Taylor makes the living moment present, touchable, disturbing, enchanting – Helen Dunmore

*

Spending the holiday with friends, as she has for many years, Camilla finds that their private absorptions – Frances with her painting and Liz with her baby – seem to exclude her from the gossipy intimacies of previous summers. Anxious that she will remain encased in her solitary life as a school secretary, and perhaps to spite of her friends, Camilla steps into an unlikely liaison with Richard Elton, a handsome, assured – and dangerous – liar.

Elizabeth Taylor’s darkest novel is a skillful exploration of the danger we’ll go to to avoid loneliness. Taylor is increasingly recognised as one of the best writers of the twentieth century, and this little-known novel displays her range admirably.

*

‘Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one’s own experience’ – Elizabeth Bowen

‘Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person’s dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail’ – Valerie Martin

‘A magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike’ – David Baddiel, Independent
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