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The Transit of Venus Hardcover – 1980

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Hardcover, 1980
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670724262
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670724260
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,406,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By nightfall the headlines would be reporting devastation. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Al on 11 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
I first read this book almost twenty years ago when I was living abroad and found it's depiction of patrician British life unbearably but beautifully nostalgic. Coming back to it, older and wiser, I found in it a heartbreaking tale of missed opportunity and unexpressed, unrealised love.
This a novel for grown-ups who have weathered a few heartaches; it has something of the Japanese concept of 'wabi'- the beauty of the melancholy in transient things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 31 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is a bit of a curate's egg - good in certain parts but confusing and a bit slow in others. The plot largely deals with the fates of two Australian sisters, Caro and Grace, who arrive in the UK having finished their schooling determined to make something of their lives (a third, much older sister, Dora, who brought them up after their parents' death and has also come to England bobs up every now and then, always having had some disaster happen in her life). Caro determines to work, and gets a place in the Civil Service; Grace captivates a young man of good family and becomes engaged. While staying with Grace's fiance's family, Caro meets a playright, Paul Ivory (handsome, self-obsessed and charismatic) and a young scientist, Ted Tice (diffident, highly intelligent, gentle and with a slight defect in one eye). Predictably, she falls for Paul, and not for honest Ted, who in his turn falls passionately in love with her. The novel charts the lives of this group over some 30 years. Caro and Paul begin an affair, despite the fact that he's engaged to - and later married to - a wealthy young woman of aristocratic background. Paul breaks off the affair cruelly when his wife becomes pregnant, and Caro sinks into deep depression. She's rescued (like the Australian heroine of Christina Stead's 'For Love Alone') by a warm-hearted American, a philanthropist, charity worked and writer called Adam Vail, and goes to live with him in the USA. Meanwhile, Grace and her husband Christian, who appear to have the perfect suburban marriage, both experience some mild discontent and restlessness, and both are tempted to have affairs.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Soudi B on 10 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
I ordered this book after reading Bryan Appleyard's comment on the greats of this century which says according to one f his advisers, The Transit of Venus is "the most perfect novel written in the past 100 years". I could not say more.
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By Radek on 17 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shirley Hazard is without question a first rate wordsmith; she can write beautiful sentences and string them together into an exhilarating music. She does it consistently. But she seems incapable of writing a truly first rate novel. The Great Fire nearly made it but failed ultimately for me because of Hazard’s obfuscating and belittling worship of romantic love. The central relationship in that novel was a fairy story. Hazard is at her best when her characters are figuratively standing beneath a window in the pouring rain. But it’s a sensibility that belongs to a bygone era. And as such can often come across as something sentimental we still feel affection for but have grown out of. It’s as if she needs to do what Fitzgerald did in Gatsby – stand outside his own romanticism, project it elsewhere and see it for what it really is, a sustained act of heightened imagination that ultimately is an illusion.
The Transit of Venus is a novel about affairs of the heart. Many of them illicit; or at least, outside matrimony. Characters are only really alive when the heart is engaged and pumping. It reminded me a lot of Rosamond Lehman’s the Echoing Grove – the theme of two sisters, one rebellious, the other more willing to compromise to the dictates of domesticity and the romantic lyrical nature of the novel’s sensibility. Lehman though did a much better job of examining the backstage realms of domesticity without belittling it as Hazard often does. Hazard isn’t interested in her domesticated female until she’s contemplating adultery. She isn’t really interested in anyone unless they’re about to step out into a storm.
Also, stylistically this novel is a nightmare for the first fifty pages.
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By Cloggie Downunder TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
Shirley Hazzard's novel, The Transit of Venus is beautifully written: the language was wonderful, very descriptive. There were some excellent scenes. The characters, however, leave a lot to be desired. They all seemed to be either nasty or weak, or sometimes both. There wasn't anyone there to really love or believe in. For lovers of language, this would be a satisfactory experience, but if you value the story as much as the language, you might be disappointed. I got to the last paragraph and was completely confused, having dismissed an earlier vital clue as an extraneous detail. I had to go online to read some discussion groups before I had figured it out. I'm not sure the reading experience, the quality of the writing, was worth the effort for the final outcome. I found it heavy going. I'll hesitate before devoting time to another Shirley Hazzard book.
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