Sunday, February 6, 2011
To the North by Elizabeth Bowen
This stunning piece of work by Bowen had me utterly and completely enthralled. So much so that I swore when I had read the last line, how very unladylike! It is brilliant and beyond me as to why it seems to be flying under a literary radar these days.
Cecelia makes the acquaintance of Mark Linkwater on her train back to London. He is of dubious character but the young widow has a way of attracting men during her travels. Her sister-in-law, Emmeline, runs a travel office and is quite the entrepreneur despite being pressured to take things easy and look towards settling down.
The two ladies share a flat together, supporting one another through the loss of their brother and husband. Things get complicated when the very tall and immaculate, Julian Tower, becomes involved with Cecelia. Emmeline forms an attachment of her own and in her modern way, steps over the bounds of propriety. At what cost the heart doesn't even begin to describe where this story takes the reader.
Having read only one of Bowen's short stories before I didn't quite know what to expect. To say the least, I was blown away by her writing and examination of the human psyche. I found myself reading certain passages twice, sometimes due to complexity and sometimes for their sheer beauty. Oh, and the ending was beyond compelling, the best I've read since Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski. Are you sold yet?