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.