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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always wonderful Elizabeth Taylor
Mrs Taylor never disappoints and this time gives us a wonderfully well-observed, compassionately funny glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of a faded seaside harbour, shortly after the war. If their lives are mundane, there still seems to be a lot going on, all observed by dreadful, bed-ridden Mrs Bracey, proprietor of the second-hand clothes shop - who doesn't...
Published on 15 July 2008 by booksetc

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good bedtime reading
this was a bookclub choice and although it is very well written I found the storyline a little tedious and very dated. It brings out what life was like for women of that era and I can't say I found it very uplifting.
Published 16 months ago by Boudicca


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always wonderful Elizabeth Taylor, 15 July 2008
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Mrs Taylor never disappoints and this time gives us a wonderfully well-observed, compassionately funny glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of a faded seaside harbour, shortly after the war. If their lives are mundane, there still seems to be a lot going on, all observed by dreadful, bed-ridden Mrs Bracey, proprietor of the second-hand clothes shop - who doesn't miss a thing from her upstairs window. Elizabeth Taylor paints a wonderful picture of female friendship between Beth, distracted lady novelist/ terrible housewife/neglectful mother and her nextdoor neighbour Tory - who is Beth's old schoolfriend, chic, divorced, and playing a dangerous game with her best friend's husband.
Nothing happens and everything happens - behind the harbour's net curtains, there is passion and betrayal, loneliness, loyalty, the dreadful vitality of the dying Mrs Bracey, the adolescent droopiness of Beth's daughter ... and you finish, as always with Elizabeth Taylor, wishing you could meet them all again in five years time and find out what happened to them all after the last page!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a glimpse into a bygone age, 25 Nov 2011
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This review is from: A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
Elizabeth's Taylor's novels are always worth reading and [in my view] under-represented in libraries. A View of the Harbour is a fairly sober story of ordinary lives lived in a post war seaside fishing port. It reminded me of "Brief Encounter" with the married doctor [Robert] falling in love with his wife's best friend who happens [conveniently] to live next door. She [Tory] is equally smitten though still deeply hurt by her divorce.

Meanwhile Bertram Hemingway, a retired sailor, arrives for the duration and insinuates himself into the lives of the people of the small community. He meets Lily, a nervous widow, Mrs. Bracey, a nosy gossip, confined to her bed and making up stories about her neighbours. Her daughter, Maisie, waits on her hand and foot and waits for her to die, whilst her sister, Iris, serves in the local public house and dreams of being "discovered by Cecil Beaton" and whisked away to another life.

The only person Bertram sees nothing of is Beth, Tory's best friend, who sits indoors writing her novels. One imagines quite a bit of Elizabeth Taylor went into the character of Beth - surely it is no coincidence that their names are the same?

As a previous reviewer has mentioned, like many of Elizabeth's works, the reader is left wondering what happened to the characters later. In this case, I thought about Prudence - did she do anything with her life or continue to moon about with her blessed siamese cats? What did Bertram do next? What happened to Maisie and Iris?

I highly recommend this novel.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad little post-war lives, 24 Mar 2003
At first view, this is a woman's novel. Probably also at second view! It's a domestic story; it's about friendship, adultery, betrayal, the dreary lives of women (and men), how the second-rate convince themselves that they are first-rate. And so on. But it is also, like all her novels, extremely funny. The tensions between family members are well observed, as are the ways in which people deceive themselves and others. Painful as well as funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written Story, 18 Dec 2013
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Susie B - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
Bertram Hemingway, ex-navy, now retired and keen to prove his prowess with a paintbrush and canvas, arrives at the coastal village of Newby, and takes a room at the pub in the harbour. Sitting on the harbour wall, in view of the lighthouse and with his sketch-book in hand, Bertram surveys the dilapidated properties around the harbour and becomes interested in the people who live in them. Living above the Waxworks Exhibition is widow, Lily Wilson, who locks her bedroom door at nights, afraid of the 'ghostly company' downstairs in museum; at the second-hand clothes shop there is Mrs Bracey, paralysed from the hips down, a naturally inquisitive and garrulous woman, who has to rely on the comings and goings of her neighbours for entertainment; living with Mrs Bracey is her daughter, Iris, who works in the pub and spends her time imagining Laurence Olivier opening the saloon door and heading straight for her; in the big house lives the local doctor, Robert, with his novelist wife Beth, and their daughter, Prudence - twenty years old and never been kissed; and between the doctor's house and the pub, lives beautiful divorcee, Tory, who unbeknown to her friend Beth, is involved in an affair with Beth's husband, Robert. (Not a spoiler, we know this from the information on the cover of the book). When Prudence discovers that her father is involved with Tory, she is appalled, and her reaction greatly worries Robert and Tory who would hate for Beth to learn of their betrayal...

This is a beautifully written story with some wonderful painterly descriptions, especially at the book's opening where the author vividly describes her harbour setting, the huddle of buildings on the seafront and the community within. On the surface it may appear that not a huge amount happens in this seaside town, but behind the closed doors and the lace curtains, we watch as flawed, but likeable characters cope with their own small disasters and dilemmas, triumphs and disappointments. Elizabeth Taylor is a marvellous writer who is able to portray her characters and their situations with compassion, perception and humour. She is excellent at describing the dynamics of mid-twentieth century middle-class family life, and she is very good at exploring the vagaries of the human heart. I always enjoy reading Elizabeth Taylor and, in addition to this novel, I can recommend:The Sleeping Beauty; A Wreath Of Roses; Blaming; Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont and if you enjoy short stories, do try:Complete Short Stories (VMC).

4.5 Stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much underrated writer, 15 Dec 2013
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This review is from: A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress!) is a wonderful writer who has been unaccountably neglected. 'A View of the Harbour' is a wry look, with both funny and poignant moments, at a run-down seaside community in the aftermath of World War II. Taylor's ability to evoke atmosphere, paint a picture in words, reproduce dialogue, get inside the world of children, are remarkable. She deserves to be more read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a Joy, 8 Mar 2014
This review is from: A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
If you are tired of reading highly rated modern novels that never fail to disappoint then turn to Elizabeth Taylor and rejoice. The writing is restrained and elegant and the portrayal of her characters is precise and unswerving. Human frailties are exposed but with such compassion that the reader feels the pain. A beautiful book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 8 April 2013
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This review is from: A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) (Paperback)
This is an excellent read and one that will appeal to all ages.
I would highly recommend this book as a fun and happy book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful book, 20 Mar 2013
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The book unfolds as you read it. Give it time - and don't read the last page before you get to the end!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich read, 25 Aug 2013
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The detail in the writing allow you to visualise characters and the setting- a very good read as all her books are.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivid in my memory after a year, 7 Jun 2013
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J. Wilson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I read this book last summer and its still so vivid in my memory. The characters are very strong. And the writing is good. I give it a four just because its a slightly strange setting and not sure I particularly like the ending - but then maybe real life is like that...
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A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)
A View Of The Harbour: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC) by Elizabeth Taylor (Paperback - 6 April 2006)
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