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The Last September Paperback – 14 Mar 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell (14 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720144
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,109,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A combination of social comedy and private tragedy...brilliant description of Anglo-Irish life at the troublesome time of 1920" (Times Literary Supplement)

"She is a major writer; her name should appear on any responsible list of the ten most important fiction writers on this side of the Atlantic this century. She is what happened after Bloomsbury...the link that connects Virginia Woolf with Iris Murdoch and Muriel Spark" (Victoria Glendinning)

"A strongly autobiographical portrait of a lost class marking out its final moments - every garden party, every house guest and every flirtation is touched by a sense of impending extinction" (Guardian)

"Posterity will one day return to Miss Bowen's novels as a repository of clues to the inner life of our times" (Sunday Telegraph)

"When I read [The Last September] I was knocked out by the sheer magnificence of her writing, the cinematic possibilities, and her obsession with the minutiae and the detail of life... I was totally gripped by the story" (Deborah Warner Glasgow Herald) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Genteel life at 'the 'Big House' continues while the Irish War of Independence rages beyond the gates, but for how long? --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
NOTE: the following comments are mainly thematic, and I have tried to avoid "spoiler" plot details.

In Elizabeth Bowen's accomplished second novel, "The Last September," published in 1929, the story is set about a decade earlier, at the time of the Anglo-Irish War. The protagonist and main center of consciousness is Lois Farquhar, about 18 years old, an orphan, and living with her uncle and aunt, Sir Richard Naylor and his wife Lady Myra, in Danielstown, a "big house" in the south of Ireland. An English regiment is quartered nearby to keep the rebels under control, and Sir Richard and Lady Myra seem oblivious to the seriousness of the political realities of their times. Lois is presented as being at that stage of life where she seeks to make her own way in the world, though she is not yet capable of articulating her desire for freedom in anything like direct terms. Thus we see her disenchanted vision of the older generation represented by her uncle and aunt, rather than any clear articulation of her own hopes for the future. She knows what she wants to get away FROM, but as yet is only inchoately grasping what she might herself become. These inchoate graspings focus on visitors to Danielstown, the Montmorencys, (old friends of Richard and Myra), Marda Norton (a frequent guest, apparently an independent woman, but in fact dependent on people like the Naylors to put her up for weeks at a time), and Gerald Lesworth, a young English officer who is smitten by Lois. Bowen captures brilliantly the uneasy consciousness of Lois as it circles around these characters in whom she sees possibilities of her own freedom and whom she, to some extent, idealizes. .
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Format: Paperback
I initially bought this book as part of my English Literature Coursework, I generally would not read this type of style normally but I have to say this has turned out to be one of my favourite books! I live in Ireland so it was very interesting to read a story based on the history of the country I grew up in and the story is very captivating. I discovered after reading the book that there was a film based on it but honestly, the film does the book no justice. What seems to me as important parts, have been left out of it completely and the acting does not do justice to the emotions portrayed in the book itself. I found this book so interesting, I actually got my highest mark and top of the class from the coursework completed in regards to it.
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Format: Paperback
Danielstown, the Irish estate belonging to Sir Richard and Lady Naylor, is the closed environment which allows Elizabeth Bowen to explore the Anglo-Irish lifestyle, values, and allegiances in 1921, a time when The Troubles are about to sweep the country and change it forever. The Naylors' niece Lois is nineteen, a bored young woman without goals, impatient to get on with the job of finding a husband so that she can fulfill her apparent destiny. Her cousin Laurence, an Oxford student who would rather be in Italy or France, also has little to do, a condition he shares with a married couple, Francie and Hugo Montmorency, who visit friends like the Naylors regularly, having no home of their own.
A British army unit is garrisoned nearby to protect their loyal subjects-and, not incidentally, provide a ready source of young men for garden parties and tennis matches. With an acute eye for detail, ironic detachment, and a sometimes caustic wit, Bowen reconstructs the lives of these aristocrats. One comments that it would be "the greatest pity if we were to become a republic and all these lovely troops taken away." Laurence remarks cynically that he would like to be present when "this house burns and we should all be so careful not to notice." When an informer tells the family that guns have been buried on their property, they are blasé about it-they don't want to tell the soldiers because it might result in the trampling of some new trees.
Throughout the novel, Bowen's prose remains formal and detached. When Lois and a young soldier begin to think they are in love, there are no passionate scenes-both are a product of their time and upbringing, and kisses are reserved for the engagement. When nearby estates are attacked, the Naylors simply change their schedules and limit their travel.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Set in Ireland in 1929, this lyrical and nostalgic novel expresses the point of view of some of the Anglo-Irish who lived in their long-established big houses in the countryside of Ireland while the `Troubles' were in full spate. The novel mainly concerns Lois, living with her Uncle and Aunt, Sir Richard and Lady Myra Naylor, because of the death of her mother and father during the Great War. For Lois, and a nephew of Lady Naylor's, Lawrence, life is one long round of visitors, tennis parties, dances in the nearby town and in general a leisured existence doing a little sketching on the side. Lois has a friendship with Livvy, from a neighbouring household and it is known that Gerald Letchworth, a young English subaltern from the nearby barracks appears to be preparing to pay court to her. Then the beautiful and languorous Marda, a distant relation, pays a visit and changes the composition of the household as another visitor, Gerald, there with his wife Francie who is older than him, begins to exhibit signs of infatuation.

There is a large cast of characters, all deftly and skilfully portrayed and the background of the Troubles is a rumble of discomfort beneath the clink of drinks before dinner. Of particular interest is the Anglo-Irish attitude to the English occupation. They welcome officers to their parties, but are neutral when it comes to the activities of local Irish families, to whom they have been used to offering patronage and from whom their large cast of servants is obtained. They prefer not to notice, if they can contrive it, that they are straddling the conflict between English and Irish politics.

Though the personalities and the various love affairs and attractions sometimes pall - there is only so much polite wooing and arcane conversation one can bear - the background of the Troubles provides the catalyst for several incidents and for the downbeat ending.
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