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The eye of the storm [Hardcover]

Patrick White
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description



Elizabeth Hunter, an ex-socialite in her eighties, has a mystical experience during a summer storm in Sydney which transforms all her relationships: her existence becomes charged with a meaning which communicates itself to those around her. From this simple scenario Patrick White unfurls a monumental exploration of the tides of love and hate, comedy and tragedy, impotence and and longing that fester within family relationships.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Viking Press (1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670303747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670303748
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.6 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,522,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Beautiful and heroic...Every passage merits attention and gives satisfaction" (New York Times Book Review)

"One of the greatest magicians of fiction ... White's scope is vast and his invention endless" (Observer)

"Patrick White is, in the finest sense, a world novelist. His themes are catholic and complex and he pursues them with a single-minded energy and vision" (Guardian)

"The outstanding figure in Australian fiction" (New York Times)

"In his major postwar novels, the pain and earnestness of the individual’s quest for ‘meaning and design’ can be felt more intensely than perhaps anywhere else in contemporary Western prose" (Sunday Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

This mesmerizing, ambitious, lyrical masterpiece is perhaps Nobel Prize-winner Patrick White’s best novel. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incomparable 16 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This is easily bears comparison with the great character-based novels of nineteenth century English literature. Even mentioning "Middlemarch" in the same breath would not be too generous a tribute. Every character is subtle, complex and utterly believable. Every nuance of light and shade is used to capture the intricacy of, and the tensions inherent in their motivations. The light is often harsh, but the fact that the characters are spared nothing emphasises their humanity, and makes for exquisitely balanced and deeply compassionate portraits.
In refreshing contrast to much contemporary fiction, the reader is never told what to think about any of the characters. Within the broad confines of the very simple plot, they speak and act for themselves.
It is a measure of the greatness of this novel that, many years after reading it for the first time, I occasionally find myself pondering aspects of the characters and their motivations, as if they were people I knew well. The resonances with some of my own thoughts and motivations are uncanny, and more than a little disturbing.
The going might seem a bit tough at first if you haven't read White before. But believe me, it's worth every minute.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 7 Jan 2014
By AndyH
A writer who inspires participation; who allows just enough space on an inspirational platform for the reader to move beyond the pages. A writer to conjure with. Fabulous!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So disappointing 9 Oct 2010
I have really enjoyed Patricks White's novels in the past - particularly Voss which was amazing but this book is awful from the start. None of the characters have any warmth or real personality. They are not even convincing. In fact they are all quite hateful. The prose is turgid, the style is pondering and dark. I gave up two-thirds through so I gave it a pretty good chance. Its for the charity shop not my bookshelf.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dark voyage 24 Jun 2007
By C. Lindsay - Published on
Patrick, the greatest novelist to have come out of Australia, had already produced a number of classic novels by the time he released "The Eye of the Storm" in 1973- the year that also saw him win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
It is to his credit as a writer that rather than merely repeating the formula of these past successes he explored new territory in terms of style, characterisation and theme with this book.
He had made his reputation by writing about the inner journeys of individuals struggling to find spiritual enlightment in the relentlessly materialistic world of Australia. His heroes had included a ragtag bunch of fascinating outsiders- the mad old nature mystic Miss Hare, neglected Aboriginal artist Alf Dubbo and a visionary explorer in "Voss". In these earlier books White seemed to be suggesting that the mindless fascination with wealth, property and normalcy that pervaded Australian society only left room for individuals to explore deeper issues of spiritual meaning and significance out on the fringes.
It comes as a surprise then that in "The Eye of the Storm", White's heroine is wealthy society woman, Elizabeth Hunter, who seems to embody everything that he most abhored about Australia. The novel explores the life of Elizabeth Hunter through the relationships she has had over many years with a variety of characters, including her lovers, children and servants. The heroine may have been based on Patrick White's own mother and she is presented as essentially destructive in her insistence on dominating others.
The novel is much less religious in its outlook than White's early books. One reviewer described "Riders in the Chariot" as more of a "mystical essay" than a novel but such a description could not be applied to "The Eye of the Storm". Like its heroine, the novel is less mystical and more worldly than what White had given us before. "The Eye of the Storm" is centred more in the painful, toxic relationships that exist between members of a dysfunctional family than in issues of spiritual transcendence. Eventually, during a tropical storm in Queensland, Elizabeth Hunter does experience a moment of spiritual epiphany but this time the heroine is out of her element. She is a stranger to this world and hardly knows what to make of it.
The Nobel Committe had been put off awarding the Prize for Literature to White in 1970 because of the bleak, cynical presentation he had given of the way artists use other people to create art. After all, The Nobel Prize, is supposed to be given to literature of an 'idealistic' nature. It seems fanciful however to think that "The Eye of the Storm" offers a rosier view of human nature than its predecessor. In exploring the emotional wreckage that comes out families and such dark themes as incest, both emotional and physical, "The Eye of the Storm" is unlikely to leave readers with a warm, inner glow. But it may appeal to an audience who like literary fiction which take big chances with language, style and theme. Whilst not one of his best three or four books, it is still rich and rewarding.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Storm 10 Aug 2011
By An admirer of Saul - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Selfish,vain and callous,Elizebeth Hunter is dying. In her youth she had great beauty and used it to her own advantage and ends, destroying the lives of so many, leaving them vulnerable and under her control.She contiues to dominate proceedings as her feckless and vain children-the actor Sir Basil and Dorothy;a princess through an unhappy marriage into French nobility-together with three nurses, housekeeper and loyal solicitor gather around her deathbed. A storm of memories afffects them all;Mrs Hunter reappraising her life and those in it as she passes through the eye....
Once again,White builds a huge tower concerning the human condition from a seemingly flimsy storyline-mans futile search for imortality,power and meaning, all hopelessly doomed not only by our flaws but the insignificance of our brief time in existence.
White's huge strength is his magical prose and wonderfully observed ordinariness and complexity of his characters lives.So detailed and subtle are his descriptions that you are there;in the room farm or Sydney street he takes you to.So vivid are the pictures he creates for your mind.
Achedemics will no doubt draw paralels with 'King Lear' which is a dominant sub theme, but I've never concerned myself too much with this side of White's work.Its just so powerful that I read my "annual Patrick White " novel and I come back to it so often during the year;the images and ideas still vivid.
I confess I am a White addict and am completely turned on and tuned in to his style and themes and rate him as possibly the finest of all nobel prize winners. I know some people cant 'get into' his story lines and miss getting hooked.All I will say is find a free week to allow yourself to be absorbed into White's world.Truly great.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His master work 13 July 2009
By Helpful consumer - Published on
Luck would have it that he got the noble prize for this book that holds all of his styles.If anyone wants to read White start here.In this book you get it all.You wont finish this book the way you started life.I am surprised there are only two reviews to this book.I have read a lot and this is at the very top; if anyone out there aspires to write , read this.He has a depth of language and metaphore and craftmanship (a perfectionism that comes out in his biography) that is with the worlds very very best.Its a fabulous read ,and superb.One or two pages of this book consume the books most other writers.Perhaps thats why there are few reviews.Frankly, they won't hold a candle to him.And the descriptions in the stories are superb , 20 later you will hold the vision like a movie.The 'Eye of the storm' has hundreds of threads but I still remember Whites description of cyclone coming onto Fraser Is and of the Dolls head being pulled off and of and of and of etc etc etc .This book is the best of Worlds best.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome - an intense character study 7 Aug 2011
By Harry - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am in awe of Patrick White. His ruthless character descriptions - their foibles, fears and petty anxieties - no secrets or airs and graces are left unexposed. And his mastery of the English language - you have to be amused and astonished by a book which can encapsulate characters through their "silken ankles" or "silky testicles". As with so much of Patrick's work, much trauma, not a lot of joy. The self-centred reaction of the children to the death of their father is one of the saddest moments encountered in literature - all the sadder as you can see the truth. Brilliant.

That was the good - the bad news is that the Kindle version has some pages of the book out of order, which is very confusing and not up to Kindle's high standards. I have logged the details with Kindle and am informed this will be fixed and that the Kindle version is withdrawn from sale pending that resolution. Hopefully soon, as this book should be out there.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible 3 Feb 2013
By Patricia C. Andrews - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This incredible novel, first published in the early 70s, easily passes the test of time. The subtleties of imagery and character in the gathering around the deathbed of a wealthy old woman make one laugh and sigh in appreciation. The cook who performs the Tingeltangel for the old lady, the famous-actor son who throws his words to the "many-faced monster" of his audiences, the nurses, the daughter who just wants to be French please, not Australian--all are held in their gravitational orbits by the pull of the old woman's manipulative force and her wealth. Enjoy!
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