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In a Summer Season (Virago Modern Classics) Paperback – April 1, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

'Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning point in one's own experience' ELIZABETH BOWEN 'Jane Austen, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen - soul-sisters all' ANNE TYLER 'One of the most underrated novelists of the twentieth century' ANTONIA FRASER 'One of Taylor's best novels' NEW STATESMAN 'It's smashing ...When you've finished In a Summer Season, you are totally fired up to read every book that Taylor ever wrote' VAL HENNESSEY 'How deeply I envy any reader coming to her for the first time!' ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD

About the Author

Elizabeth Taylor (1912-1975) was born and educated in Reading. After leaving school she worked as a governess and later in a library. She lived much of her married life in the village of Penn in Buckinghamshire.
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Product Details

  • Series: Virago Modern Classics (Book 112)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago UK; New edition (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844083209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844083206
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #589,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kate Smart on March 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am reading all of Elizabeth Taylor's books, one by one. They are all beautifully written, fiercely intelligent, and both hilarious and heartbreaking at once. Had it not been for an article in the Atlantic Monthly, I would have lived my whole life never having discovered this author, who has become one of my absolute favourites. When you discover a writer that you love, you cannot imagine never having read their words.
I almost feel as if I know her.

Elizabeth Taylor is often compared to other female British writers but somehow the comparisons are not accurate to me. She was different; more intelligent, stronger, and had a wit that showed a subtle brilliance.
Her writing is not typically female, and has a sharp masculine undercurrent about it eventhough her stories are almost exclusively concerned with female domestic life. It's a fascinating contrast.
She once said that she preferred books where "almost nothing happens." Yet her stories are so rich - in dialogue, in analysis of human behaviour. It is "inaction" at its very finest.

Furthermore, she was able to do what few female authors manage: to write male characters authentically - their mannerisms, their voice, their perceptions, in a way that is totally believable. What a rare and wonderful writer she was. If you haven't yet discovered Elizabeth Taylor, how I envy you. You have so much enjoyment to look forward to.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kate on January 27, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first heard of Elizabeth Taylor in an Atlantic Monthly review. I am a Barbara Pym fan(atic) and it seemed Taylor would be to my liking. I received In a Summer Season on Thursday and devoured it by Saturday morning. The story was compelling, the characters beautifully drawn and largely sympathetic. Some of Taylor's emotional or psychological insights caused me to catch my breath. I am widely read and slightly cynical, but I found this novel to be that paragon of literature--entertaining, informative, and thought provoking. I highly recommend this author and am only sorry it took me so long to hear of her.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on October 7, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Taylor was unquestionably one of the most intelligent and hard-to-describe British novelists of the mid 20th century. Each of hers novel is very unlike every other novel in terms of its plot, although you'd never mistake her witty way at getting at the springs and balances of genteel middle-class behavior for anyone else's. And yet her work shows strong affinities with her great friend Ivy Compton-Burnett's, as well as with Elizabeth Bowen's and even (at times) with Iris Murdoch's.

IN A SUMMER SEASON, one of Taylor's finest novels, is a striking blend of both comedy and tragedy, centering largely upon the ways in which the young and unsettled cling to that which is older because it seems safe, even when it is not the best thing for them (or for their elders). The middle-aged wealthy widowed Kate has married Dermot, over a decade her junior, mostly for his sexual allure, but he stays clinging to her because she makes it possible for him not to work or grow up; significantly, his own mother wants him to work in a shop selling Victorian antiques. Meanwhile Kate is watched in her marriage by her live-in aunt Ethel, a former suffragist; her son by her first marriage, Tom, who works for his condescending and nagging grandfather in hopes of rising in the family business; and Tom's sister Lou, who nurses a crush upon a middle-aged pastor with High Church tendencies that distress the other townsfolk. Even though the novel's women sport the latest and highest bouffant hairdos of the novel's era (it was published in 1961), the family's telescope in their Thames Valley home gives away their fixation on the ways and comforts of the past, in that it more often than not focused on Windsor Castle several miles away.
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Format: Hardcover
I've yet to read a bad novel by the revelatory Elizabeth Taylor. Who knew an author this good was hiding in plain sight all these years? Though there are many great British women 20th century authors I'd be hard pressed to say any of them are as satisfying as Mrs. Taylor.
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