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A Wreath Of Roses (VMC Book 564)

A Wreath Of Roses (VMC Book 564) [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Taylor , Helen Dunmore
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Description


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 (ROSAMOND LEHMANN)

Book Description

*Elizabeth Taylor is one of the most acclaimed 20th century writers

*With a new introduction by Helen Dunmore

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 305 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (29 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #99,336 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling 30 July 2009
A strange and chilling novel by Elizabeth Taylor, very different from any of her others: 'Beauty and corruption touch us - at the same time, in the same place ...always the two going hand in hand.'
Camilla is a gauche spinster, on the brink of middle age, who started life on the wrong footing and never got going, never launched herself into love or marriage. Her friend Liz - who allows herself second chances at what she doesn't get right first time - is shakily married to a slightly pompous vicar, but their relationship steadies itself; it isn't perfect, but grows more solid as an institution. The two women are on a week's holiday staying with Liz's old governess.
Desperate for something to happen to her, Camilla begins an incongruous liaison with the only man on the horizon, a handsome liar with empty eyes who is staying seemingly aimlessly in a local hotel ... And the ending is more chilling than anything I could have expected from Elizabeth Taylor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Deceptive.. 28 Nov. 2011
First published in 1949, Elizabeth Taylor's 'A Wreath of Roses' is the tale of three women: Camilla, Liz and Frances. The story focuses mainly on Camilla, an unmarried school secretary with her youth behind her, worrying that life is passing her by. The novel is set in an English village during a blisteringly hot summer where Camilla and Liz, an old school friend, spend a month in the country in the home of Frances, Liz's ex-governess. Liz, married to a vicar, has recently given birth to their first son and is finding married life and motherhood somewhat different to how she had imagined. Frances, having given up teaching is now indulging in her passion for art and when she is not painting in her garden studio, she spends her time playing her piano with gusto and abandonment. With both Liz and Frances taken up with their own private lives and worries, Camilla feels excluded and lonely, so when a rather good looking but dangerous and duplicitous man, Richard Elton, takes an interest in Camilla, she finds herself responding to him in a way that she would not have thought possible.

'A Wreath of Roses' is considered to be Elizabeth Taylor's darkest book; amongst its themes are loneliness, self deception, mental suffering, fear and death, and Taylor writes sensitively and knowledgeably about these. As commented in a previous review of mine, Elizabeth Taylor uses language with a subtle sensuality and writes with compassion and with perceptive wit. 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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gently Beguiling 5 Oct. 2011
By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Perhaps the best place to start when discussing a novel by Elizabeth Taylor is with the prose: it has a beautiful flowing silkiness and every word sits comfortably within its sentence, and every sentence fits smoothly into its paragraph. Taylor's prose is deceptively light but beneath the surface elegance it has real bite. Although her subject matter is quite different at times reading A Wreath of Roses I was reminded of Daphne du Maurier. Both authors were blessed with a prose style that purred like a contented, well-fed Persian Blue. Talent will get you so far but beyond that you need a touch of genius; both du Maurier and Taylor were definitely so blessed but whereas du Maurier tended to look outwards at large and often slightly surreal themes (time travel, and the desire to escape from the dreariness of being yourself day after day, in The House on the Strand for example) Taylor looks inwards at the emotions that bubble beneath the surface of tranquil-looking and apparently unremarkable lives.

A Wreath of Roses tells the story of Camilla who believes love and the chance of happiness have passed her by, and two of her friends - Liz, who is married but perhaps not happily so, and Frances, an artist whose work has effectively become her life. Camilla and Liz spend a few weeks over summer in Frances's house, observing, talking, quietly analysing each other's lives and measuring the happiness of their friends and acquaintances against their own situations. Into this frothily fermenting female atmosphere comes Richard Elton - charismatic, charming but with a definite edge, a hint of the brutal and unpleasant.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Of all her books, this is not one of her best 10 Aug. 2014
Had this been any other Elizabeth Taylor novel [aside from "Angel" which is not typical of her work] I would probably have given this 4 or 5 stars but it is a somewhat morbid, sad story which feels claustrophobic and as stifling as the post-war summer in which it takes place.

Frances, the elderly artist is concerned that her painting days are over, due to rheumatism and old age, and knows that death is on the horizon. Liz is perpetually worried about her new baby, and her ineffectual husband [who is besotted with the womenfolk of his congregation, to Liz's consternation] is a thorn in the side of Liz's best friend, Camilla.

Camilla herself, knowing that she is "on the shelf" [this is 1947 or thereabouts] and desperate for something of a holiday romance becomes entangled with the totally unsuitable Richard who has criminal tendencies and lives his life in a haze of fantasy and bar fumes.

Into the mix comes the lonely but eminently likeable Morland Beddoes, a film director and friend of Frances's, who, being removed from the emotional entanglements of the quintet, observes and understands everyone's troubles and tries to be the voice of reason in the maelstrom which is created when what was once a happy summer holiday appears to be heading for disaster.

The earlier review by Gill, stating that Elizabeth Taylor based this story on a real person is very interesting and can be found in Nicola Beauman's excellent recent biography of Ms Taylor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fantastic tho sad and short
Published 1 month ago by Jo V.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Chilling and subtle - quite different from her other novels.
Published 6 months ago by katetudor
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration for the book?
I bought this book when I was 16 in 1971 (pre-Amazon of course!), and it has always been one of my favourites. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing to find a book that is so well written
Refreshing to find a book that is so well written - original, thought provoking themes set in a compelling plot. Wonderful descriptions of characters and places.
Published 14 months ago by lw
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing
This dark and brooding novel is simply wonderful- Taylor writes so well and with such depth. A book to savour
Published 17 months ago by Gloria
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
For everybody who loves a good descriptive novel. A beautiful read and like the characters in the book gives you the sense of the end of an era.
Published on 11 Dec. 2012 by StitchWitch
5.0 out of 5 stars Life at a dark crossroads
This early novel firmly positions Elizabeth Taylor in the very front rank. Set in Oxfordshire, within sight of the Wittenham Clumps, the descriptions of the countryside along... Read more
Published on 2 July 2012 by Christopher H
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling
A strange and chilling novel by Elizabeth Taylor, very different from any of her others: 'Beauty and corruption touch us - at the same time, in the same place ... Read more
Published on 30 July 2009 by booksetc
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