Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor

It's official.  Elizabeth Taylor is one of my favourite authors.  Blaming is my third venture and while I am tempted to say it is my favourite it could possibly be that I have settled into her writing style.

The story begins with Amy and Nick on holiday in Istanbul.  They are middle-aged and middle-class.  Their vacation spot enthralls Nick much more than his wife which leads to bickering.  Add to that an American tourist named Martha, who has attached herself to the couple and you have a storm brewing.

Despite being written in the mid-seventies, there is an earlier feel to the story such as when Nick initiates an early night by saying 'Your bed, I think,' he said.  'I always think that's more polite.'

It's no secret that Nick dies while on holiday.  The ever-present Martha imposes her assistance.  Visits to the family home and a string of correspondence creates a bond which provides each woman with someone to talk to during difficult times.  But Martha is brash, unkempt and more bohemian than Amy is comfortable with and eventually she wishes the contact would cease.

There are two granddaughters by Amy's son, James and his wife, Maggie.  Dora and Isobel irritated me in the beginning with their insolent behaviour and manipulative ways.  But in that subtle way of Taylor's, she had me absolutely charmed and laughing at their antics by the end of the book.  I was thrilled to read in the afterword by Taylor's daughter, Joanna, that some of their lines were taken from things she had said as a child to her mother.

A relationship with the family doctor and close friend, Gareth Lloyd, blossoms and a tragic twist towards the end of the book made me gasp.  Many of the characters experience blame due to a variety of reasons making the title a perfect one.  I did not want this story to end and it was poignant to read that Taylor wrote with determination to finish before dying of cancer.  As I wrote earlier, she died before this book was published and selfishly, I am quite ticked when talented authors are taken too soon.

There really was nothing else for it, despite a personal challenge to read from my shelves I promptly ordered two more books by this truly sublime author.


  1. A new author for me and I am making a note of the name and the book for my almost toppling TBR

  2. Oh Darlene! I have SO MANY Elizabeth Taylors at home and wish I could read them all...I have so enjoyed the books of hers that I have read, and Blaming sounds brilliant. What other Elizabeth Taylors did you order, may I ask?!

  3. Mystica, A girl after my own heart. You won't be sorry.

    bookssnob, Read Blaming for the fresh-mouthed Isobel if nothing else, she is a scream! I ordered At Mrs Lippincote's and The Soul of Kindness. In my defence, I would just like to add that my first ET purchase, In a Summer Season, now has a 'check Abe Books' tag. I must strike while the iron is hot with these books lest they are lost to me forever! Or, I camp out at your house with you and your stash.

  4. Excellent choice, Darlene ... they're two of my favourites. (I think Game of Hide and Seek is my absolute favourite, but it's a bit like picking a favourite child.)
    I got hooked and didn't stop until I'd read all of them, though I'm still missing some of the short stories. What I must do is get round to finishing the biography.

  5. Elizabeth Taylor has grown on me over the years, and now I love her. Blaming has never appealed, but I trust you, and so ! shall give it the benefit of the doubt one of these days!

  6. I don't think I've got Blaming (or have I?) but I must say it really intrigues me, from what I've read about it. Of the three ET novels I've read, Angel is actually my favourite - which I believe isn't a popular opinion amongst Taylorites.

  7. One of mine too! I've read ALL of her :) Trying to collect them all in original green VMCs...

  8. This sounds wonderful, Darlene! I'd like to read Elizabth Taylor (after the TBR Dare is over, of course).... any recommendations of where to start?

  9. mary, Nicola's biography is high on my list now as well. And you have me all excited at the prospect of her short stories...something to be on the lookout for!

    fleurfisher, My daughter gave me this one for Christmas and I'm so glad that she did! I promise that you will love it.

    StuckInABook, Haha! I would not be at all surprised if it's housed somewhere in your collection. If you liked Angel best then that is recommendation enough for me, Simon.

    verity, A true fan then! Scouring second-hand bookshops for treasures is the best of quests.

    JoAnn, As Mary wrote, it's like picking a favourite child. I will defer to her choice of A Game of Hide and Seek as she has read just about everything by Taylor. I loved it as well! There is a scene at the workplace that is just will know when you get there.

  10. Darlene you can come and camp with me anytime!! Tea and biscuits will be on tap!

  11. I really enjoyed 'The Other Elizabeth Taylor' - a biography by Nicola Beauman but I have yet to read any of ET's novels. Blaming sounds very good and with attached poignancy due to her impending death.

    Happy New Year to you (if I haven't visited this year yet)!


  12. Cottage Garden, I have also forgotten just who I've wished a happy new year to but who can have too many best wishes?

    You must run right out and pick up at least two titles and read them immediately...or really soon!

  13. Blaming is my favourite Taylor, too. The *event* at the end of the book is certainly a shock though. I loved the part in Istanbul where Amy's sandal breaks and she has to hobble around the tourist sites - so true to life.

  14. Vintage Reading, This book packs a roller coaster ride of emotions in such a short read doesn't it! Glad it's a favourite of yours as well.

  15. Angel and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (have you read Mrs P?) are also excellent. I'm hoping to read a ET novel this month, too! I have A View of the Harbour at the ready. See, aren't you glad now you have that extra space on your new shelves?!