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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars. Subtle and Intelligent.
This entertaining and enjoyable novel by Elizabeth Taylor centres on Vinny Tumulty, a quiet, sensitive and sensible middle-aged man; the sort who can always be relied upon to say the right thing at the right time and to do what would be expected of him. When he travels to a seaside town to comfort a bereaved female friend, he expects to spend a few days offering his...
Published on 14 Nov 2011 by Susie B

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mmmm...just not my cup of tea.
The early glimmer of a good tale which sadly waned for me as the story went on. I didn't warm to any of the characters, the ending left me even colder and I was ultimately disappointed. Overall I felt the story was pointless and made for onerous reading.
Published 8 months ago by KS Bath


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars. Subtle and Intelligent., 14 Nov 2011
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) (Paperback)
This entertaining and enjoyable novel by Elizabeth Taylor centres on Vinny Tumulty, a quiet, sensitive and sensible middle-aged man; the sort who can always be relied upon to say the right thing at the right time and to do what would be expected of him. When he travels to a seaside town to comfort a bereaved female friend, he expects to spend a few days offering his sympathy and a manly shoulder to cry on. However on his first evening, gazing out of the window as the sun is sinking, he observes a beautiful, but seemingly lonely and faintly mysterious woman lingering by the seashore. After a few carefully placed questions, Vinny discovers the identity of his mystery woman; she is called Emily and lives quietly with her sister after a terrible and life-altering accident. Within a few days, Vinny has fallen in love for the first time in his life and he decides to offer his love and support to this retiring and beautiful woman. However, although Emily may appear quiet and self-effacing, she is hiding something from the past and so, it would seem, is Vinny.

Elizabeth Taylor writes beautifully; she uses language with a subtle sensuality and writes with compassion and with perceptive wit, delicately highlighting the humour running through human relationships and social intercourse. 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. If you have not yet discovered Elizabeth Taylor, and you enjoy reading intelligent, subtle, witty novels, then you are in for a treat.

4.5 Stars.

Also recommended by the same author:A View of the Harbour (Virago Modern Classics) and The Soul of Kindness (Virago Modern Classics)

If Elizabeth Taylor is a new author to you and you would like to find out more about her and her writing, I would recommend: The Other Elizabeth Taylor by Nicola Beauman.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love on an English Seashore, 25 May 2012
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This review is from: The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) (Paperback)
Elizabeth Taylor is often both exhaustively and exhaustingly compared to Jane Austen, but I can never see why. They have little in common- apart from both being female.
Austen's world is one of social manners and marriages in stilted and simple English.Taylor's prose is silkily sensuous witty, urbane, descriptive and rather modern. I find her delicate style more similar to Colette for instance; the incredible observational powers, the delicacy and wit- Taylor is seamless.
There are pithy aphoristic conversations, dark secrets, and enormous good humour. Sexuality depicts the psychological 'setting' of each character.

The Sleeping Beuaty of this book is a once promiscuous and thorough;y modern girl, now an inert and frozen child's companion. Both are damaged, the child an accident of birth, a woman damaged by life.Her secrets are bittersweet and painful. Her would-be lover, Vinnie Tumulty finds himself at first repelled and aroused by her mask like loveliness and then entranced by the compassion he feels for her. Compassion is his greatest weakness and also his greatest strength. He also has a secret, a wife of which he cannot rid himself having given way to pretending she did not exist for so very long.

In between this Mills and Boon type scenario great dark humour fizzles and flowers in conversations between his lady friends and their secret passion for betting.
Ageing is dealt with great humour and the effect of face creams analysed with 'almost Oriental politeness'. Their breasts are remarked as being sick of one another, Marron meringues are refused and then devoured as deference to attractiveness gives way to petty greeds and desires, which finally surface as uncontrolled bitchiness and destructive and casually vindictive jealousy.
Then there are hilarious exchanges between Nanny and the nursemaid, a strange changeling child and a controlling bleakly tamped down sister who dominates the Sleeping Beauty as she did her own husband, by stealth, fake maladies and
small displays of pique.
There is a subtext of power: the powere that women have over men and vice versa, the power of the unkind word, the pathetic subterfuges that women resort to finding themselves without youth or social standing.
Of course this is all rather in retrospect, but you will recognise the pettiness of the English middle classes at a time when a woman would allow herself to be groped by a stranger in a cinema rather than cause embarrassment.
In a way we are all Sleeping Beauties until we are awoken, and this is what happens to every character in this marvellous novel; whether by breavement, shock, sex, love or change, we are all affected by the shifting effect of our lives as they touch on others, like the shifting light on a changing sea.
In the end, the message is presented in the most humane and unromantic way; however flawed or lives, true love is everything.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quest for human warmth, 29 Aug 2012
By 
Christopher H (Keilor, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) (Paperback)
Elizabeth Taylor has written a novel for adults about mature feelings. This is not the syrupy romance or sleazy sex of popular fiction, but something much more difficult for writers to grapple with and express convincingly: a quest for human warmth. The immediate comparison would be with Taylor's contemporary Graham Greene, although the setting is not exotic and the characters are not in an extreme situation. Instead, all is utterly normal. Because her subject is the complex inner lives of quite everyday people we meet all the time and who surround us.

"The Sleeping Beauty" is about grown up emotions and perceptions. The middle-aged Vinny has a crush on a woman he glimpsed on the beach. The just-widowed Isabella is coping with menopause and sorting out her husband-less future. On the edge of adulthood, Laurence is getting over the loss of his father, and wants a girlfriend. Betty, the children's nurse, would like a boyfriend. Rose is trying to cope with a disabled child, and the memories of an unhappy marriage. Rita, ... well that can wait until you read the novel.

Taylor effortlessly shows her readers degrees of emotional vulnerability and hurt. No one is this novel is a cardboard cutout; everyone has a complex and full inner life. And, at moments, the author's cosmopolitan wit sparkles on the page. I chuckled when I read that Vinny's mother looks like Mme Vuillard, the stout woman at the sauna who recalls a sculpture by Henry Moore, and the moment when madeline cakes are dipped in wine (À la recherche du temps perdu). The humour is not forced. It shapes and contributes to our understanding.

If I give this novel four stars it is due to the end, which, after a skilfully paced build-up, leading the reader to what is shaping as a disturbing climax, abruptly looses momentum. Indeed, I do wonder if an editor forced the last few pages to be revised, diffusing the conclusion. (A friend who read the book has similar thoughts.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written book., 2 Mar 2014
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Some people might find this a depressing book but it is so true to life and the prose flows so easily. I have already bought three more of her books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) (Paperback)
Thoroughly enjoyed this book by Elizabeth.eth Taylor.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 21 July 2012
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First time I have read this author and I am very impressed. After hearing about Elizabeth Taylor on the radio I thought I would give it a try, I was NOT disappointed. I was delighted with this novel, I love the writing style and the way the author describes the characters inner life; their thoughts and feelings. The characterisation was so effecive I found myself thinking about them and imaging what they looked like. I would most certainly recommend this author if you like an intelligent, thought provoking read and do NOT feel the need for fast moving action or shocking story lines.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 10 Nov 2011
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This review is from: The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) (Paperback)
Ignored for decades, the author has lately come to the attention of more and more readers. How lucky we are!

Elizabeth Taylor's books are simply but beautifully written. The human condition is explored with much humanity, subtelty and wit. Her books quietly explore and pluck at feelings with a rare flair for observation of the everyday human condition often exposing the unexpected.

Often compared with Anita Brookner, Jane Austin, Barbara Pym, she deservedly finds herself in very good company.

This book is thoroughly recommended as are all of her others which I have read with much pleasure.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mmmm...just not my cup of tea., 4 Feb 2014
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The early glimmer of a good tale which sadly waned for me as the story went on. I didn't warm to any of the characters, the ending left me even colder and I was ultimately disappointed. Overall I felt the story was pointless and made for onerous reading.
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The Sleeping Beauty (VMC)
The Sleeping Beauty (VMC) by Elizabeth Taylor (Paperback - 3 Nov 2011)
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