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At Mrs Lippincote's (VMC) Paperback – 6 Apr 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New edition edition (6 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860685381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860685388
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,162,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A book for the epicure, who will delight in its deftness, its congression, its under- and overtones (L.P. HARTLEY)

One of the most underarted novelists of the 20th century', Antonia Fraser ('Elizabeth Taylor had the keenest eye and ear for the pain lurking behind a genteel demeanour')

Paul Bailey, Guardian ('Taylor excels in conveying the tragicomic poignancy of the everyday')

DAILY TELEGRAPH ('Jane Austen, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen - soul-sisters all')

Book Description

** 'One of the most underarted novelists of the 20th century, Elizabeth Taylor writes with wonderful precision and grace. Her world is totally absorbing.' - ANTONIA FRASER

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Larah on 8 July 2009
Format: Paperback
I have not read any of Elizabeth Taylor's books before but I recommended this to my book group after reading a review of the recent biography of Mrs Taylor. All of the group enjoyed reading it with a few saying they didn't like the main character.
I, however, was really interested in the main character, Julia. The book is set at the end of WWII, in a small town where she and her husband are staying because of his posting to the RAF administrative centre there. Julia is caught in a stultifying situation as her husband is conventional and he expects her to conform to the social mores of the middle class in which they move. She however would love to break out but also knows that she has to stay with him and their son. The author gives a very good feel for the era with great accuracy and although nothing much happens in the story it flows well, is easy to read and extremely well written.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John James Turner on 7 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A "must read" for those of us who love English, female authors of the mid twentieth century, but this is a sour book, even by Elizabeth Taylor's standards, unrelieved by any humour, other than the very dark. It is difficult to like or care about any of the characters. On the other hand, it is not a long read, at just over 200 pages, and the ending contains, as we come to expect from this author, some stunning twists and shocks, with pithy exposure of the moral weakness and deceitfulness of the characters, who fail to flourish. The book evokes the mores and conditions of an era (England in World War II) beautifully, not to say the fashions, clothes and buildings and rooms of the time. Taylor's terse and wry English is as good as ever. If you like your "lit crit", there are echoes of Virginia Woolf's "To The Lighthouse" and constant references to the Brontes. Much is made of a frequently visited ruined monastery, which perhaps symbolises both decay and yearning for a better time, and other such symbolism is to be found.I found this "high lit" a bit of a straining for effect after a while, but others will disagree (as they write their doctorates). So not the place to start if you are new to Elizabeth Taylor (try a View of the Harbour), but you should get round to it, if you are a fan.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ruth on 14 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to pin down the brilliance of this novel in a review. It is all to easy to draw attention to its domestic minutiae. Nothing much happens and reading this amazon page it seems to be easy, gentle, inconsequential women's literature. But it is not. The tone is best described, not as gentle, but autumnal. Taylor also has a beautiful tone and ready, sharp wit.

Domestic based writing can be, as this book and many others prove, as profound and thought provoking as the most epic war novel. The human characters and relationships within this family are painted with truthful, and at times heartbreaking, clarity. I have rarely read a family portrait as realistic and relevant.

It is also never, in spite of its limited plot, boring or dull. It seems odd to describe such a novel as a 'page turner' but it is. The writing is so taut and well controlled that there is always something to discover. And, essentially, you care.

This is no 'clever' modern novel. Apart from the slight twist at the end, this is chronological and traditional. And yet it often seems with so many contemporary novels clever narrative devices are only there to disguise inadequate writing. This book needs no disguise. It is, simply, wonderfully written.

So please try it whether or not you are attracted by domestic kitchen sink drama. Because the writing here is flawless, the truth devastatingly well realised. Well worth a try.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
This was Elizabeth Taylor's first published novel. She seemed to be drawn to writing about unhappy people, or those in difficult situations. The novel concerns a family who are billeted in a house belonging to one Mrs. Lippincote - the husband, Roddy, is in the Air Force, so they move around a lot. (With a name like that, he is bound to be some species of rotter. Another plausible rogue, the Irish Dermot, appears in her In A Summer Season. You can deduce a lot from names.)
We see events mainly through the eyes of his wife Julia. Like other Taylor heroines, she has a habit of seeing real people as fictional characters; in this case she is convinced that Roddy's Wing Commander is Mr. Rochester. Her abortive friendship with him is something that doesn't quite convince, but it has very amusing aspects. She tries very hard more than once to find out what he was in civilian life, but refuses to tell her; we find out (but she does not) casually and obliquely from his small daughter what his occupation was.
The novel was published in 1945, and consequently food plays a significant part, from the inadequate sausages (without mustard, as it would take too long to make) served by Julia on their first evening at Mrs' Lippincote's to Julia's work in the kitchen, "sodding and blasting" as she removes a tray of vol-au-vents from the red-hot oven. There is a leitmotif of egg sandwiches; make what you will of that.
Elizabeth Taylor wrote about the apparent trivia that made up women's lives, and in this she was very much like Barbara Pym.
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