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The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) Paperback – 3 Nov 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184408714X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844087143
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 316,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A wonderful novelist (Jilly Cooper)

How skilfully and with what peculiar exhilaration she negotiated the minefield of the human heart (Jonathan Keates)

An eye as sharply all-seeing as her prose-style is elegant -- even the humdrum becomes astonishing (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Brilliantly amusing (Rosamund Lehmann) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A subtle love story by one of the most accomplished writers of the 20th century

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This entertaining and enjoyable novel by Elizabeth Taylor centres on Vinny Tumulty, a quiet, sensitive and sensible middle-aged man; the sort who can always be relied upon to say the right thing at the right time and to do what would be expected of him. When he travels to a seaside town to comfort a bereaved female friend, he expects to spend a few days offering his sympathy and a manly shoulder to cry on. However on his first evening, gazing out of the window as the sun is sinking, he observes a beautiful, but seemingly lonely and faintly mysterious woman lingering by the seashore. After a few carefully placed questions, Vinny discovers the identity of his mystery woman; she is called Emily and lives quietly with her sister after a terrible and life-altering accident. Within a few days, Vinny has fallen in love for the first time in his life and he decides to offer his love and support to this retiring and beautiful woman. However, although Emily may appear quiet and self-effacing, she is hiding something from the past and so, it would seem, is Vinny.

Elizabeth Taylor writes beautifully; she uses language with a subtle sensuality and writes with compassion and with perceptive wit, delicately highlighting the humour running through human relationships and social intercourse. Taylor is often compared to Jane Austen, and those who enjoy reading her novels will understand the comparison, but I think she should be enjoyed for her own considerable merits. If you have not yet discovered Elizabeth Taylor, and you enjoy reading intelligent, subtle, witty novels, then you are in for a treat.

4.5 Stars.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher H TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Taylor has written a novel for adults about mature feelings. This is not the syrupy romance or sleazy sex of popular fiction, but something much more difficult for writers to grapple with and express convincingly: a quest for human warmth. The immediate comparison would be with Taylor's contemporary Graham Greene, although the setting is not exotic and the characters are not in an extreme situation. Instead, all is utterly normal. Because her subject is the complex inner lives of quite everyday people we meet all the time and who surround us.

"The Sleeping Beauty" is about grown up emotions and perceptions. The middle-aged Vinny has a crush on a woman he glimpsed on the beach. The just-widowed Isabella is coping with menopause and sorting out her husband-less future. On the edge of adulthood, Laurence is getting over the loss of his father, and wants a girlfriend. Betty, the children's nurse, would like a boyfriend. Rose is trying to cope with a disabled child, and the memories of an unhappy marriage. Rita, ... well that can wait until you read the novel.

Taylor effortlessly shows her readers degrees of emotional vulnerability and hurt. No one is this novel is a cardboard cutout; everyone has a complex and full inner life. And, at moments, the author's cosmopolitan wit sparkles on the page. I chuckled when I read that Vinny's mother looks like Mme Vuillard, the stout woman at the sauna who recalls a sculpture by Henry Moore, and the moment when madeline cakes are dipped in wine (À la recherche du temps perdu). The humour is not forced. It shapes and contributes to our understanding.

If I give this novel four stars it is due to the end, which, after a skilfully paced build-up, leading the reader to what is shaping as a disturbing climax, abruptly looses momentum. Indeed, I do wonder if an editor forced the last few pages to be revised, diffusing the conclusion. (A friend who read the book has similar thoughts.)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By PenFriend on 25 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Taylor is often both exhaustively and exhaustingly compared to Jane Austen, but I can never see why. They have little in common- apart from both being female.
Austen's world is one of social manners and marriages in stilted and simple English.Taylor's prose is silkily sensuous witty, urbane, descriptive and rather modern. I find her delicate style more similar to Colette for instance; the incredible observational powers, the delicacy and wit- Taylor is seamless.
There are pithy aphoristic conversations, dark secrets, and enormous good humour. Sexuality depicts the psychological 'setting' of each character.

The Sleeping Beuaty of this book is a once promiscuous and thorough;y modern girl, now an inert and frozen child's companion. Both are damaged, the child an accident of birth, a woman damaged by life.Her secrets are bittersweet and painful. Her would-be lover, Vinnie Tumulty finds himself at first repelled and aroused by her mask like loveliness and then entranced by the compassion he feels for her. Compassion is his greatest weakness and also his greatest strength. He also has a secret, a wife of which he cannot rid himself having given way to pretending she did not exist for so very long.

In between this Mills and Boon type scenario great dark humour fizzles and flowers in conversations between his lady friends and their secret passion for betting.
Ageing is dealt with great humour and the effect of face creams analysed with 'almost Oriental politeness'. Their breasts are remarked as being sick of one another, Marron meringues are refused and then devoured as deference to attractiveness gives way to petty greeds and desires, which finally surface as uncontrolled bitchiness and destructive and casually vindictive jealousy.
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