A View Of The Harbour
A Virago Modern Classic
By Elizabeth Taylor
An unforgettable picture of love, loss and the keeping up of appearances
She let herself out of the large, untidy house and into her own beautiful, hyacinth-scented one. She sat down in the bay-window of her bedroom and combed her hair before the mirror. She took it all down and built it up again, but there was no one to see what she had done.
In the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for - and in on - each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high.
Beautiful divorcee Tory is painfully involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory's best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.
'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
- Other details
- Publication date:
06 Apr 2006
- Page count:
Every one of her books is a treat and this is my favourite, because of its wonderful cast of characters, and because of the deftness with which Taylor's narrative moves between them ... A wonderful writer — Sarah Waters
Jane Austen, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen - soul-sisters all — Anne Tyler
A wonderful novelist — Jilly Cooper
An eye as sharply all-seeing as her prose-style is elegant - even the humdrum becomes astonishing — Daily Telegraph
She's a favourite of this writer. I've read this novel, set in a seaside town in the 1940s, five times and I'm itching to read it again. There's a mother from hell in it who makes me wince and chuckle — Jacqueline Wilson
There is a deceptive smoothness in her tone, or tone of voice, as in that of Evelyn Waugh; not a far-fetched comparison, for in the work of both writers the funny and the appalling lie side by side in close amity — Kingsley Amis
It is time that justice was done to Elizabeth Taylor... 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
Her best novels-At Mrs. Lippincote's (1945), A View of the Harbour (1947), A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)-are, in spite of their prim titles, funny, savage and full of loneliness and suppressed emotion. For her characters, as for their author, propriety is a survival mechanism, a way of keeping the show on the road — Rachel Cooke, Guardian