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The sleeping beauty Hardcover – 1 Jan 1953

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Jan 1953
£12.00
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: P.Davies (1953)
  • ASIN: B0000CIIA9
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,450,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A wonderful novelist (Jilly Cooper)

How skilfully and with what peculiar exhilaration she negotiated the minefield of the human heart (Jonathan Keates)

An eye as sharply all-seeing as her prose-style is elegant -- even the humdrum becomes astonishing (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

Brilliantly amusing (Rosamund Lehmann) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A subtle love story by one of the most accomplished writers of the 20th century --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.

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Elizabeth Taylor excels in portraying with subtlety, wit and compassion the lives of ordinary people, in small watchful communities, where the minor characters are fully realised and the settings are evoked with an atmospheric sense of place. Her subject is love between men and women - how small deceptions and social conventions and past disappointments disturb it; how past tragedies cast their long shadows; how gossip can be poisonous; how self-sacrifice is not always noble; how keeping up appearances can blight a whole life. Each novel makes an acute study of English provincial life in the middle decades of the last century. Her quiet voice has not always been heard in competition with better known writers of the age, but with all her books in print, including a bumper collected short stories, that is no longer the case, she is rightly, if belatedly, finding her position as a great novelist. Years ago, an Oxbridge academic, described her condescendingly to me as having "a pleasing talent"; a thoughtless putdown, it was a common attitude towards her work. I've read her for four decades, I knew he was missing her true worth.

There are two love affairs developing over the course of this novel. Vinny, a middle-aged, middle-class, gently spoken, thoughtful man, falls in love with Emily, a mysterious widow he bumps into on the beach - this is the main thread of the novel. Emily is somewhat reclusive because of the car accident she was involved in that killed her husband; it required her to undergo plastic surgery, an accident that is the possible cause of her niece's mental disability. She lives with her sister Rose in a guest house; their relationship is unhealthily dependent.
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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.
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