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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 September 2015
Elizabeth Jane Howard's debut novel, first published in 1950 (and winner of the 1951 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), focuses on a young girl living in Kensington, the daughter of an unsuccessful composer, who leaves her impoverished and rather dreary home-life and pays a visit to some distant friends of her mother's, the Lancings. Arriving at the Lancings' comfortable country home, filled with new acquaintances and new experiences, our young heroine realises that this visit could be the chance for her to break away from the dreariness of her past life and meet different people and observe an alternative way of living. However, when she returns home, she is dismayed to find that her life falls back into virtually the same old pattern, and it is not until the First World War breaks out that our heroine has the opportunity to change the dull routine of her day-to-day existence. But just when she feels that she has found where, and with whom she belongs, a tragedy occurs which pulls her almost back to where she started, and it is not until the war has ended and she receives an invitation for a return visit to the Lancings' home, that our heroine is finally able to make an attempt to really change her life.

Beautifully written, as one would expect from Elizabeth Jane Howard, this coming-of-age novel, although a fairly slow-moving story and understandably not as accomplished as the author's later novels, is one that improves as the story progresses, and there are some moments of real brilliance. The author's scene setting of her heroine's impoverished home-life where "...the house smelt of dusty carpets and forgotten meals and of grievance and misfortune..." was deftly described, as were the contrasting descriptions of the Lancings' attractive and comfortable country home, with its sweeping drive, green painted shutters and cobbled courtyard. Elizabeth Jane Howard also describes her heroine's period of time spent as a companion to a strange, elderly lady, particularly well, and this is where the story almost slips into Jane Eyre territory and where the author describes some rather unsettling moments, but also some very funny ones at the same time. With themes of adolescent longing, of love, of loss, and of the tragedy of war, this exquisitely written coming-of-age story made for an entertaining and pleasurable read, made all the more enjoyable by my opting for the Kindle Whispersync edition. This meant that I could download the Kindle version and the Audible version (beautifully narrated by Juliet Stevenson) for the price of a new paperback and could switch easily between reading on my Kindle and listening on my iPhone when commuting.

4 Stars.
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on 31 January 2016
I first discovered Elizabeth Jane Howard through the Cazalet Chronicles (which are an absolutely fabulous read) so I decided to try a few more of her books.

The Beautiful Visit is apparently the first book EJH wrote so although it has a similar style to the Cazalet books its not quite so accomplished. It is true that the first few chapters are a big gluggy and you do have to persevere through these as the book definately gets better and by the time I was 100 pages in it was almost unputdownable and I had really warmed to the lead character. This is certainly worth reading and its a shame that alot of people consider EJH as old fashioned and boring, it certainly isn't in my opinion its classic reading.

The only thing that lets this book down is the cost - at £8.99 for a "normal sized" paperback its disgraceful and no doubt puts people off from buying it, not sure if this is Picador or Amazons issue but its a crying shame!
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on 7 February 2013
Elizabeth Jane Howard, one of 20th-century England's most gifted writers, creates characters that stay with us forever.The Beautiful Visit is her first novel, written when she was in her mid-twenties. The poignant story of a lonely young girl, it carries the reader along with a heroine who reminds us of ourselves when we were young, vulnerable, and confused. Highly recommend.
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on 25 August 2015
Having read and much enjoyed The Cazalets, this was a huge disappointment. A protagonist who just drifted about, her stock phrase being "I don't know", with seemingly no will of her own - even as an adult. Not having any knowledge of post WWI Britain perhaps this was the case but her various environments were exceptionally dreary, as were the people she met. I stayed with it thinking it might lead somewhere but it only led to an inconclusive ending.

Read the Kindle edition which was riddled with typos which meant having to read the same sentence (often paragraph) twice or more to try to make sense of it.
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on 30 April 2013
A beautifully written novel with the characters well drawn and believeable. Elizabeth Jane Howard's prose is seemingly effortless and she furnished our imagination with her wonderful descriptions of places and people.

I really enjoy evrything I have read of hers so far; I shall be hunting down more! I can't understand why she is not 'current' and more widely enjoyed. Her own life is well woth reading and I recommend her autobiography, 'Slipstream' highly.
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on 19 April 2014
I should enjoy this novel a great deal more if the publishers had not made such a complete hash of digitalising it. I can't stand the way publishers whinge and whine about e.books but are happy to profit from selling them when they have taken no trouble at all to produce a decent product. They have not done Elizabeth Jane Howard or their readers any favours with the production of this kindle edition.
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on 11 May 2014
Disappointing, mainly because of the typographical errors. The worst book I have yet had from Kindle in this respect. Some of the story is well written and quite moving, but at other times it seems disjointed and some chapters don't seem relevant to the overall story.
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on 24 March 2018
Beautifully written except for the end which felt abrupt and unsatisfactory.
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on 18 January 2018
I enjoyed the book. She is a good writer.
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on 2 March 2016
I totally endorse Hannah Cole's review.......and add that you should not expect the Cazalet saga qualities.
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