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Every Eye Unknown Binding – 1956


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  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B008KAM6YU
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 29 April 2009
Format: Paperback
"Sometimes, but not often, a novel comes along which makes the rest of what one has to review seem commonplace. Such a novel is Every Eye."

Those are the words of John Betjeman, writing for Daily Telegraph in 1956 when Every Eye was first published.

It was republished by Persephone Books a few years ago. Their edition is, of course, quite beautiful and it comes with with an introduction by Neville Baybrooke, the author's widower. He writes with such clarity about his wife and her writing and his love for her shines through. A wonderful start.

Every Eye is the story of Hatty. She is a piano teacher who has married late in life, and as she and her husband are departing for a belated honeymoon in Ibiza she receives news of her aunt's death. Her thoughts turn to the childhood and upbringing that brought her to this point.

The story moves smoothly between past and present.

Hatty never really felt at home in her own family. She had a lazy eye, and maybe that made her see the world differently.

She was a talented musician with a dream of becoming a concert pianist, but her straightened circumstances, her lack of confidence and her family's failure to understand put paid to that dream. Hatty takes the line of least resistance and settles for a quiet life.

But now, it seems, she has reached a turning point. She is thrilled by the experience of travelling across Europe and she is steadily becoming more comfortable and confident in her new life. And when she reaches Ibiza she makes a startling discovery that sheds fresh light on her own past.

Every Eye is a quiet novel with very little incident, and yet it contains so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca West on 28 Mar 2008
Format: Paperback
I was surprised that I enjoyed this novel so much because in a way not a great deal happens - a girl travels to Spain and looks back on her life. Essentially she presents us with her reflections which led me to reflect over my own experiences. I thoroughly recommend this quirky book which takes the story to another level.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As reviewers both on Amazon and those quoted on the book cover have said, this is a beautifully written book. For me, though, it seemed to be written by an intellectual writing in a knowingly literary style at the expense of much plot.

Hatty, the heroine, recounts her life both past and present, seamlessly crafted by Isobel English from one to the other and back again. Although Hatty seems real, the other characters remain rather shadowy.

I found I didn't really mind too much what happened to the characters, but I did enjoy the writing.

Perhaps if you particularly love reading for the sake of the beauty of the language, this book might be for you.
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Format: Paperback
Beautifully written in a poetic style, Every Eye is a rich book full of imagery. I found it hard to read in long stints as it was quite verbose, it felt like a lot was packed into a short book.

Every Eye is the overlap of two stories, Hatty on her Ibiza honeymoon with her younger husband and a story from the past. As Hatty looks back on her life and reflects, the reader learns how her past is affecting her in the present day.

I'm not entirely sure that I understood it properly, and would benefit from another reading to fully understand all the complexities of the plot. However, I didn't warm to Hatty or her husband Stephen throughout the book and am not sure whether I will ever reread Every Eye. I will seek out further writings by Isobel English though, as reading her work reminded me of the first overpowering hit when gulping mulled wine- powerful, with a long lasting impact.

This wouldn't be a Persephone book I would particularly recommend, but the writing style was eloquent and impactive.

6/10 (Beautiful tone of the writing, marks lost as the plot had me confused)
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