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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting picture of a city at war
Elizabeth Bowen, who stayed in London during the blitz, perfectly captures wartime in the Capital. She vividly creates a city inhabited by the living and the dead. Stella the main character roams through London and lives in strange rented rooms. She like the other people who haven't fled, are drawn into a careless intimacy: causal meetings in cafes and bars, brief...
Published on 31 Mar. 2009 by Reader

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Wasted Opportunity
"The Heat of the Day" is set in the autumn of 1942, and deals with the triangular relationship between its three main characters, Stella Rodney, Robert Kelway and Harrison. (For most of the book he is referred to only by his surname, although towards the end we learn that his Christian name is also Robert). Stella is a woman in her early forties, briefly married and then...
Published on 31 July 2009 by J C E Hitchcock


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting picture of a city at war, 31 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Elizabeth Bowen, who stayed in London during the blitz, perfectly captures wartime in the Capital. She vividly creates a city inhabited by the living and the dead. Stella the main character roams through London and lives in strange rented rooms. She like the other people who haven't fled, are drawn into a careless intimacy: causal meetings in cafes and bars, brief encounters in the street. Stella's dead husband is still a shadow over her life but she tries to focus on her lover Robert and Roderick, her son. However things begin to unravel with the arrival of the loitering Harrison. Harrison threatens to disrupt her life and hurt those she loves. Stella can stop him but his silence like everything else comes at price. Stella's life begins to crumble around her.

This isn't an action packed novel of spies and espionage that it might seem but that is all to the book's benefit. Stella and the other characters are all perfectly observed and beautifully portrayed. Bowen's prose draws you into those nights of fear and steaming days of ennui, the `hot yellow sands of each afternoon'. High moments of the story are attached to historical Allied events but this isn't a war story as such, although it does deal with lives irreparably altered by the outbreak of war. I love the rhythm and the delicate nature of the prose, there is a haunting beauty to this book that deserves to be more widely known.

Here's another interesting book about the run up to the Second World War:
The Separate Principle
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brittle, strange and haunting, 10 Jun. 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is a brittle, opaque story of a strange kind of `love triangle' set in the dark glamour of war-time London. The (melo)dramatic plot is contained and constrained within a quiet, very restrained sense of telling so that the narrative seems to be in tension with itself.

There is a muted intensity to all personal interactions, and this is the kind of book where we need to pay attention to every word spoken, to every tiny gesture made, to almost decode the currents between people.

If you come to this book expecting either a war-time romance, or a spy story then you will inevitably be disappointed. So much of this book is obscure, based around things not said, actions not taken, deeds which don't happen, and the book is haunted by ghosts: not just the dead, but the bombed churches which cannot ring their bells, and the dead souls of the living.

London is familiar and yet also alien, and many of the characters are portrayed in a similar way. So this is an odd book in lots of ways which keeps us feeling somehow just a little off-kilter - but it builds up into a strange, almost dreamy, mysterious and peculiarly haunting read.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Wasted Opportunity, 31 July 2009
By 
J C E Hitchcock (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The heat of the day (Paperback)
"The Heat of the Day" is set in the autumn of 1942, and deals with the triangular relationship between its three main characters, Stella Rodney, Robert Kelway and Harrison. (For most of the book he is referred to only by his surname, although towards the end we learn that his Christian name is also Robert). Stella is a woman in her early forties, briefly married and then divorced about twenty years earlier. She is several years older than her soldier lover, Kelway. Kelway was wounded during the retreat to Dunkirk, and is now working for the army in a non-combatant role which involves access to classified information.

Harrison, an agent with the British secret services, is investigating Kelway, who is suspected of passing military secrets to the enemy. Harrison contacts Stella and informs her that Kelway is suspected of treachery. He, however, is prepared to bargain; he will allow Kelway to remain at liberty provided that Stella becomes his lover.

Of the three main characters, it is Kelway who is potentially the most interesting. He is a man who is prepared not only to betray his country but also to collaborate with a regime as vile as the Nazi one. He has neither been bribed or blackmailed, but has made the decision to assist the enemy out of ideological conviction. Unlike most Nazi sympathisers, however, he does not appear to be motivated by racism or anti-Semitism. He rather believes that the freedom promised by democratic systems of government is an illusion and that it is the unity and strength conferred by obedience to a powerful leader which hold out the greater hope for mankind.

Both the other main characters are also, in their own way, traitors; Harrison in that he puts his own sexual advantage before his duty to his country and Stella in that she is prepared to assist Kelway to escape even after he has confessed his treachery to her. As others have pointed out, this could have been the plot of a Graham Greene thriller, although Elizabeth Bowen's treatment of her subject matter is very different from the way Greene would have handled it. For a start, there is very little mention of religion, something which normally plays an important part in Greene's works. More importantly, although Bowen is interested in exploring the psychology of her characters on the surface level, she does not explore their deeper reasons for their behaviour, something which, I feel sure, would have interested Greene.

I felt that more time should have been spent in exploring the motivations of the main characters; the psychology of a man like Kelway, in particular, could have made for an interesting character study, but this opportunity was neglected. We never really see the process whereby he has come to the conclusion that it is totalitarianism, not democracy, that represents the wave of the future; we are simply presented with his opinions at the end of the book when he confesses his guilt to Stella and attempts to explain his treachery to her. (It is also never explained why he should have developed an admiration for Nazism rather than Communism, which had rather more support in Britain at this period).

On a more immediate level, however, Bowen is very sensitive to the nuances of social behaviour and conversation, which meant that her characters always seem vivid and real. Her prose style is elegant, and she is good at conjuring up a sense of time and place, taking her reader back to a damp, foggy autumn in London and the Home Counties, midway through the Second World War. (The "Heat" in the title is metaphorical- this is not a book about a hot summer). The book did not, however, seem well-structured- too much of the book was taken up with sub-plots with little connection with the main story. Bowen tells how Kelway's family debate whether or not to sell their family home and how Stella's son Roderick inherits a country house in Ireland from a cousin- Bowen was herself from an Irish landowning family- and wastes a good deal of time on Louie, a young woman with only a vague connection to Stella and Harrison, and her friend Connie. Although there were things to enjoy in "The Heat of the Day" it did not impress me as much as "The Death of the Heart", the only other one of Bowen's novels which I have read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Old but amazing, 6 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is an amazing book. So glad i happened to see it in a list of 100 best novels. When reading it you are IN 1940's London. It is simply superb
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 Mar. 2015
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Very pleased with purchase. As described. Many thanks
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heat Of The Day, 9 April 2014
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This is a 'pre-loved' book but in very good condition. I am enjoying the book although the style of writing is not one that is used today. That makes it all the more interesting.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No better than the recent TV drama, 12 Jun. 2014
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I thought there might be more to it than the TV drama but it was not really. An ok read.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Heat of the Day, 13 Jan. 2015
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This review is from: The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
One of the most long winded, verbose books i have ever read. The only reason i read it was because it was chosen by my book club. The back cover calls the book intelligent, if it had been any more long winded i would had dropped off to sleep......gripping it was not!!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 25 Oct. 2013
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Arrived well within time in decent condition. A very good resource for a difficult-to-find book. I have no complaints with this service.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Heat of the Day, 17 Dec. 2012
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I really struggled with the style and the heavily detailed description of every psychological and emotional moment in the characters' consciousnesses.
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The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics)
The Heat Of The Day (Vintage Classics) by Elizabeth Bowen (Paperback - 14 May 1998)
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