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Complete Short Stories (VMC) [Paperback]

Elizabeth Taylor , Joanna Kingham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Jun 2012 VMC (Book 171)
Elizabeth Taylor, highly acclaimed author of classic novels such as Angel, A Game of Hide and Seek and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, is also renowned for her powerful, acutely observed stories. Here for the first time, the stories - including some only recently rediscovered - are collected in one volume. From the awkward passions of lonely holiday-makers to the anticipation of three school friends preparing for their first dance, from the minor jealousies and triumphs of marriage to tales of outsiders struggling to adapt to the genteel English countryside, with a delicate, witty touch Elizabeth Taylor illuminates the nuances of ordinary lives.

Frequently Bought Together

Complete Short Stories (VMC) + Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) + The Sleeping Beauty (VMC)
Price For All Three: 23.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (21 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844088405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844088409
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 100,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: one of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. (Sarah Waters)

Taylor has remarkable skill. In all the stories there is a peculiarly satisfying mixture of wit and generosity. Their human depth is such that they can be read again and again. (Margaret Drabble)

Taylor's writing is honed, even laconic, especially in dialogue. Her wit, while sharp, is buoyant. She focuses on the domestic as a theatre of secret barbarism ... These are Taylor's people, beautifully present and poignant as they play out the comedy of their lives. (Helen Dunmore The Times)

Must Reads: Taylor's wicked, subversive stories are a mordant delight. (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The first time Elizabeth Taylor's acclaimed short stories have been collected in one volume, and its publication marks the centenary of Elizabeth Taylor's birth.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The emotional games people play 23 July 2012
By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Elizabeth Taylor was adept at charting the emotional games people play, and this book is packed with numerous permutations and combinations on the themes explored in her full length novels, plus much more. These pages testify to a unique imagination as much as her abilities to handle words - what perceptions, what understanding of human nature.
Especially impressive can be the shortest pieces, which are cleverly crafted character studies where conversations reveal the speakers' personalities: the verbal equivalent of minature portraits (at just 2 pages, "Taking Mother Out" is a marvel of concision). Taylor often has these stories start in mid-conversation, and immediately presents how people behave toward each other (everyone fusses around a new mother in "The Light of Day"), showing the social conventions and customs we automatically fall into (the hospital visit in "Mothers"), and the ways of children (every parent would recognise the portrayal of the shopping excursion in "The Little Girl").
Not that this focus on behaviour and emotions means that Taylor lapses in her descriptions of settings when needed (it may be only four lines, but the first paragraph of "For Thine is the Power" succinctly conveys place and time).
Many readers will be surprised at these studies, for they represent a very different aspect of Taylor's creativity from the twisting, skilfully plotted narratives we know through her novels. One appreciates just how major a writer she was.
I have found this book as stimulating and absorbing as reading through the collected stories of Katherine Mansfield, and the complete stories of Flannery O'Connor. There is an emotional universe in here; in these pages I seem to recognise versions of individuals from my own life.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This wonderful edition of Elizabeth Taylor's short stories, with an interesting introduction by the author's daughter, includes not only those stories that have appeared in earlier collections, but also those which have previously only appeared in magazines, mostly the 'New Yorker'. Many of Elizabeth Taylor's stories have an autobiographical basis and she is known for writing about situations she was familiar and comfortable with, however, it is not entirely true that Taylor did not venture out of her comfort zone in her writing, as a few of the stories in this book show.

This complete collection contains over sixty short stories; the ones that are more widely known such as the marvellous 'Hester Lilly' which tells the story of a headmaster's sophisticated wife who suffers discomforting feelings of jealousy when her husband's young, gauche cousin comes to stay; 'The Devastating Boys' where an Oxfordshire couple invite two black boys from the East End to their home to give them an experience of life in the country - the boys cause a fair amount of upheaval, but bring unexpected pleasure and rewards; and a particular favourite of mine: 'Girl Reading' about a teenage girl, the daughter of a financially strapped widow, who goes to stay with a school friend from a much wealthier family, which is particularly good. However, there is also the very different 'The Fly Paper' (described by Taylor as being "rather horrible" whilst adding that she did not think anyone would really like it) which later became a rather chilling film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All in one 24 May 2013
Back in the days before Virago, in their green paperbacks, reissued the novels of Elizabeth Taylor, I would hunt for copies in secondhand bookshops, pouncing on them with glee (I did the same for Rosamond Lehmann's and Willa Cather's books). I lifted this heavy volume with more circumspection, having come across most of the stories before in slimmer volumes; but that was a long time ago, and I rightly guessed I could read them afresh with just as much pleasure. I mention this because it seems to me this compendium, so heavy in the hand, so intimidatingly comprehensive (64 stories equals quite a commitment), is aimed more at the devotee than the casual browser or the present buyer. That aside, it's very welcome: I've been reading one or two stories a night for the past few months and shall miss them now I've reached the end: her tone is consoling, her stories often leave you smiling even when tinged with sadness.

It's strange to think that these genteel English stories were written mainly for the American magazine market, they are so very much of their time and place. Transatlantic readers would have received an impression of post-war Britain set in unassuming houses among the middle- and lower-middle classes, in seaside boarding houses, in teashops and department stores, in quiet towns and villages, featuring unremarkable, hidden lives where small events take on great significance and where small betrayals and disappointments reverberate down the years. Perhaps in such a large collection the uniformity of tone, the small canvas on which she works, the lack of narrative surprise, can become a little monotonous, but these are easy, affecting reads that seldom leave you wanting more.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Read
Beautifully written short stories, poignant reminder of life in 20th century. It is a treat
to read such well crafted prose, a change from thrown together block busters
Published 5 months ago by Mrs Elaine Shearburn
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointed.
I bought this because it got good reviews.Very disappointed.
I would not recommend this, some of the stories seem to be unfinished.
Published 7 months ago by Rita Foley
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting read
Every one of these stories is entertaining and thought provoking. Would appeal to anyone who enjoys a stylistically satisfying yarn.
Published 9 months ago by georgescott
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written gems!
Outstanding collection of stories that cover timeless themes .Recommended to anyone who likes reading examples of good concise English prose
Published 11 months ago by Mrs Olivia Simmonds
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense reading
Need to dip in and out of these collected stories -too intense to read continously. Insightful observations and full of atmosphere
Published 11 months ago by slip1,knit1
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic short stories
A superb set of short stories. Crisply written in a rather detached voice. Beautifully crafted writing ad a great read.
Published 12 months ago by Southsider
4.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth Taylor short stories
This must be the ugliest publication ever produced by Virago, previously noted for beautiful covers. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rothwell
5.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Store
The only drawback to this excellent collection is that it is overpoweringly large. The variety of the topics covered is amazing.
Published 16 months ago by I. Brammer
3.0 out of 5 stars good book
Wish I had bought the stories separately because it is a bit heavy and unwieldy to manage - but well worth reading
Published 16 months ago by penny name
4.0 out of 5 stars Delighted but frustrated
So far, I have adored the characters and situations Elizabeth Taylor has created; my frustration is that none of the stories has been extended to a full novel. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Enneida Gnitnub
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