This title is presented with an introduction by Victoria Glendinning.
The Irish troubles rage, but up at the 'Big House', tennis parties, dances and flirtations with the English officers continue, undisturbed by the ambushes, arrests and burning country beyond the gates.
Faint vibrations of discord reach the young girl Lois, who is straining for her own freedom, and she will witness the troubles surge closer and reach their irrevocable, inevitable climax.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 14/05/1998
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099276470
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by ltimmel
This novel is, at its most obvious level, a comedy of manners. A few days after finishing it, I find myself speculating about Elizabeth Bowen's choice of writing about the overthrow of British rule in Ireland by way of this particular form. Bowen was a modernist, and so I can easily imagine that while writing this novel she might have been wary of falling into a nostalgic tone; so perhaps that accounts for her choice. This "comedy" ends not in marriage, though, but in a series of departures and separations, a violent offstage death, and the post-narrative burning down of the primary scene of the story. The narrative is pretty much fixed on an Anglo-Irish aristocratic circle whose status and way of life depend entirely on British rule-- but not only on their complex, finely drawn interpersonal relations, but also (or especially) on the ironies of that dependence. I suppose Bowen's interest in the ironies are, actually, fairly well served by a comedy of manners. The best bits for me, though, are the occasional moments in the narrative when the atmosphere rather than the characters' quirks and interpersonal tensions dominates the narrative. My favorite example of this is the first description of an abandoned mill that a few paragraphs later becomes the scene of an awkward collision between the comedy of manners and the scene of political strife that constantly strains against the limits of comedy of manners:Mounting the tree-crowded, steep slope some roofless cottages nestled under the flank of the mill with sinister pathos. A track going up the hill from the gateless gateway perished among the trees from disues. Banal enough in life to have closed this valley to the imagination, the dead mill now entered the democracy of ghostliness, equalled broken palaces in futility and sadness; was transfigured by some response of the spirit, showing not the decline of its meanness, simply decline; took on all of a past to which it had given nothing.That last sentence could almost be taken for the novel's summing up of the castles and mansions that burn, and the aristocrats who evacuate the scene, at the end of the book.
Review by agentsam008
Fairly plotless so it was hard to engage in. There are two many silences in the novel - the characters pretend not to notice the reality of the world outside Danielstown - and in a way Bowen may have done this deliberately to present how the Irish treasure memory. Thus a fine picture depicting the attitudes of the Anglo-Irish in 1920 Ireland but very static as a novel.
Review by Susanne_53
I wanted to love this book but I found it really hard going. It is set in Ireland during the 'Troubles' in the early 20th century, but not much is said about the politics of the time. The story is about a self indulgent aristocratic Irish family and their visitors. I couldn't care about any of the characters. The 2 stars are for Bowen's descriptions of the house and countryside which are evocative.