Top critical review
Of all her books, this is not one of her best
on 10 August 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.