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The Heat of the Day Paperback – July 9, 2002
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“[Bowen] startles us by sheer originality of mind and boldness of sensibility into seeking our world afresh. . . . Out of the plainest things--the drawing of a curtain--she can make something electric and urgent." --V. S. Pritchett
"Dense as a poem with symbol and suggestion. . . . The work of a writer [of] rich and winning gifts." —Time
"Miss Bowen [has] power to evoke, suggest and explore down oblique and little-frequented avenues the mysterious centers of human conduct." --The New York Times
From the Inside Flap
Many people have fled the city, and those who stayed behind find themselves thrown together in an odd intimacy born of crisis. Stella Rodney is one of those who chose to stay. But for her, the sense of impending catastrophe becomes acutely personal when she discovers that her lover, Robert, is suspected of selling secrets to the enemy, and that the man who is following him wants Stella herself as the price of his silence. Caught between these two men, not sure whom to believe, Stella finds her world crumbling as she learns how little we can truly know of those around us.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Heat of the Day tells the story of Stella Rodney and the people she is connected with, by blood, by love, by fate, or all three. The story is set in London during World War II, with a friend telling her that Robert, her lover, is giving information to the Germans.
The novel describes Stella's experiences in the succeeding months as she visits with her son, home on leave from the war; goes with Robert to his family home in the South of England; and travels to the home in Ireland which her son has inherited from an uncle. Throughout all this Stella is processing the information she received, and eventually acts on it. The outcome is not so much the point of the story as is the description of what Stella feels and remembers about her experiences, in the present and in the past.
Bowen's language is elegant and poetic. Her descriptions of physical events, in nature or in the world of man-made objects, endow these events and objects with a life we know is there yet never notice. Her penetrating observation of the effect of physical objects and events manifests itself in another way as her awareness of the motives and causes of human behavior, the subatomic flickers that speak volumes in human interactions. Each of the characters the reader encounters is developed with astonishing subtlety, complexity and depth. The women and the men alike emerge as full human beings.
In The Heat of the Day, as in many of her other novels, the reader becomes aware of the subtle forces in operation in the most commonplace of human experiences.
I recommend this book highly; it truly combines the depth and elegance of James's prose with the wit and penetrating observation of Jane Austen. Elizabeth Bowen is a writer worth learning about.
This Harrison is a bit of a riddle and it's hard to be convinced by his sudden obsession with Stella without finding him somewhat abnormal. His scenes with Stella are understated and only when you mull them over do you realize how terrible they are, how shocking are the points he is making, the game he is playing. Before we have met Robert we have no way to assess Stella's reaction; is she going to be persuaded to casually drop him and take up with Harrison?Read more ›
One of the book's reviewers, V.S. Pritchett, writes, "Out of the plainest things - the drawing of a curtain - she can make something electric and urgent." I beg to disagree with Mr. Pritchett, but there is absolutely nothing electric, in this case, about a full page description of a woman drawing the curtains and looking out the window. It is downright tedious. After a long, rather innocuous conversation with her son, our heroine Stella Rodney, puts her cigarette out in the ashtray. After a pause, her son says, "I suppose you'll need the wastebasket." That was the conversation's high point.
The story takes us to wartorn London, about midway through WWII. Stella Rodney, an attractive, intelligent woman in her 40s, is divorced with a son in the Army. Ms. Bowen portrays the tension and eeriness of a city, and its inhabitants, stressed by years of war and bombardment. Stella keeps running into a strange man, Harrison, who first introduces himself to her at her cousin's funeral. The meeting is not accidental.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I needed to read this for a book club and it was seriously boring. It is supposed to be one of the hundred best books of all time but I had to skip a bunch of the long prose to get... Read morePublished 1 month ago by MaineYogaGirl
I bought this book based on a review in GoodReads, and the fact that I usually enjoy fiction from this period, particularly women authors circa 1900 to 1945. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lone Reader
Can not recommend. Book is stated as a thrilling story . Not! Verbose.Published 3 months ago by Phyllis
Written in the late Forties but depicting life during the Second World War, THE HEAT OF THE DAY offers a penetrating analysis of life in a culture dominated by uncertainty and... Read morePublished on December 5, 2013 by Dr. Laurence Raw
You read a Bowen novel for her prose, which can be so fine and creative - without as extensive a use of analogy or metaphor as one might expect. Read morePublished on September 29, 2013 by algo41
This is a wonderful novel. Rich, subtle... really interesting characters. I read it at a time when I was very busy, and had to sit down, take a breath, and savor it.Published on September 26, 2012 by Rioro
Few books have taken me for such a wonderful ride as this one. You can get the plot from the publishers blurb. I found the story engaging, provocative, and rich. Read morePublished on November 30, 2010 by Amazon Customer
This may be one of the best books, I've ever read, or at least one of the least expected. And there's no way I can do it justice, because so much of the pleasure was in the writing... Read morePublished on June 10, 2010 by Martha Freeman