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Blaming (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Apr 2006


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Blaming (Virago Modern Classics) + The Soul Of Kindness (VMC) + In A Summer Season (VMC)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184408308X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844083084
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A compassionate and devastating tale (Daily Mail)

Jane Austen, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen - soul-sisters all (Anne Tyler)

Elizabeth Taylor had the keenest eye and ear for the pain lurking behind a genteel demeanour (Paul Bailey, Guardian)

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

Book Description

* A finely nuanced exploration of responsibility, snobbery and culture clash.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Nina-Jo Rees on 21 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Taylor writes about quiet, middle class lives in London and the Home Counties in the 40's 50's and early 60's, the period through which she lived and wrote her novels. Then she fell out of fashion rather as Barbara Pym did, neglected undeservedly many critics, including Phillip Pullman and Jonathan Keates, now agree. 'Blaming' seems to be a wonderfully comfortable and easy read but like all her novels, works its magic quietly, almost subversively.

Her forte is the ordinary, the day to day so carefully observed and made strange and real for the reader. Once having read her books they become part of your memory, like a lived experience. At the heart of all her novels, including 'Blaming' is quiet despair, lives lived in loneliness and frustration, but also humour and bravery when faced with problems and griefs. In 'Blaming' a friendship is explored between the grieving widow Amy, and the rootless American writer, Martha. It is an odd friendship. Martha appears to be using Amy as material for a novel on the English and Amy keeps up the relationship out of a sense of guilt. There are other funny and interesting characters, including the cook/housekeeper Ernie and Amy's selfish son Gareth and wife, embodying early 60's tastes and aspirations.

The style is spare and pointed, beautifully clear and minimal. If you like Ann Tyler or Sagan, it seems to me that Taylor has some of the best aspects of both these writers. Once you have read one of her books you long to find your way back into her world and to read more and more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
Amy Henderson, a woman in the middle years of her life, is on a cruising holiday with her husband, Nick, who is recuperating after a serious illness. On the ship, they meet a young American writer, Martha, who is travelling alone and is eager to become friends with the Hendersons, but although Nick is open to Martha's friendly overtures, his wife is not so keen. However, when Nick suddenly dies one night (not a spoiler, we know Nick dies before we begin reading) and a shocked and bewildered Amy has to leave the ship and make plans to return to England, it is Martha, feeling desperately sorry for Amy, who also disembarks and takes on the responsibility of looking after her and getting her home safely. Once she is home and being looked after by her married son James, her doctor friend, Gareth, and the ever-present Ernie, a sort of male housekeeper who was employed out of pity by Nick, Amy tries to put her obligation to Martha behind her and get on with her life. However, Martha, who lives in London, seems keen to keep in touch with Amy, and before long a reluctant Amy is persuaded into spending time with the forthright young writer, who gradually comes to rely on Amy for friendship and advice. As time passes Amy admits to her son that she does not really wish to continue their friendship, but she reluctantly listens to him when he tells her: "Whatever you decide to do, don't for heaven's sake punish her because you owe her gratitude." When Amy fails to offer her support to Martha when Martha really needs it, a tragedy occurs, for which Amy should perhaps accept her share of the blame. But will she?

This was Elizabeth Taylor's last novel, written when she was terminally ill, but she was determined to finish it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Not having previously read any Elizabeth Taylor novels before I didn't really know what to expect from `Blaming' if I am honest, maybe something a little twee. The story opens in Istanbul where Amy and Nick are taking a holiday after his recovering of an illness, what it is we are never quite sure. Here they meet the American Martha, a novelist which they don't know initially, who is travelling alone. Slowly but surely the three start to become acquainted and before they know it, or have even really consented to it, Amy and Nick find they are sharing a holiday with someone who was until recently a stranger.

As the trip continues tragedy strikes, this could be a spoiler so you might want to stop reading or skip this paragraph though it does tell you on the blurb and happens early in the novel, when Nick dies in the night. Amy is left widowed and stranded alone in a foreign country with no one to help her or comfort her than Martha who almost relishes the role especially as an observer. Once back in England Martha tries to get into Amy's life once more, and with reluctance though as an escape from her rather irritating family (both to the reader and Amy) slowly but surely she allows this friendship to blossom even though she doesn't want it too and the two are drawn in to each others lives through a mixture of grief, guilt and blame.

I won't say anymore about the plot as it's a short book and I would recommend that you gave it a whirl yourself.
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