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The Little Girls Paperback – July 13, 2004

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Triumphant . . . the funniest of Miss Bowen’s novels.” —The Times (London)

“This story is poetic in its awareness, its stimulus, its beauty of writing; and as full of clues, hints and half-revealed secrets as any thriller.” —The Scotsman (Edinburgh)

“Bowen so thoroughly knows the world she is writing about that she contrives to appear to convey it to us whole. Her fictional insight is made solid by sound psychological insight.” –The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

In 1914, three eleven-year-old girls buried a box in a thicket on the coast of England, shortly before World War I sent their lives on divergent paths. Nearly fifty years later, a series of mysteriously-worded classified ads brings the women reluctantly together again. Dinah has grown from a chubby, bossy girl to a beautiful, eccentric widow. The clever, reticent Clare has blossomed into an imperious entrepreneur of independent means. And Sheila--who was once the pretty princess of her small universe--has weathered disappointed aspirations to become a chic and glossily correct housewife.
As these radically different women confront one another and their shared secrets, the hard-won complacencies of their present selves are irrevocably shattered. In a novel as subtle and compelling as a mystery, Elizabeth Bowen explores the buried revelations--and the dangers--that attend the summoning up of childhood and the long-concealed scars of the past.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (July 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400034795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400034796
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading this book. I am not sure what happened -- the prose is very nice but obscure. I only went online to find out if anyone else figured out the plot!

I liked the book anyway. The characters are the same age/sex as I am (mid-60s). There are all kinds of hints about big secrets to be revealed, but I did not figure out the secrets. Was Dicey's mother sleeping with Clare's father? Was Clare's father really Dicey's father too? What happened to Dicey when she injured her head? Why was Dicey so upset that she had to be bed-ridden for days? Why did she want so much for Clare to spend the night? Was Clare gay? What was the deal with Trevor? What was Sheikie doing for the ten years before she married Trevor? Who was the man Sheikie "killed"?

ARGHH! I have an advanced degree in a difficult subject, and I am usually good at puzzles, so I am not used to feeling this dumb!
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Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Bowen became one of my favorite authors ever within the first chapter of the first book of hers that I read, (The House in Paris). Her text is acute and moving, it makes everyone alive and has a tangible respect of the subjectivity of people's existence.

The Little Girls, the fourth novel of hers I have read. I do not think I would have fallen as madly in love with her if it had been my first or second book of hers that I read. But it is still a good novel. Like most of Bowen' work plot is secondary to the way people read one another. In this case the three girls of the title, who are all grown up and in their sixties. They have not spoken to each other since their childhood effectively ended with the outbreak of the First World War. The girls put together a pagan sort of made up ritual in creating a time capsule to go along with their exotic nick-names, (Sheickie, Mumbo and Dicey). Then fifty years later they decide to search for it. But really it is about

After reflection the prose of this seems different than in her earlier novels. I read an article that stated in her later novels, especially Eva Trout, her prose tends to be more in the subjectivity of the characters. The Little Girls is definitely moving in that direction. The third person narrator is using the vocabulary of whom she is describing. This is especially obvious in the second section narrating the events that happened immediately before the outbreak of the war. It makes it less sympathetic than the prose of her earlier novels. I guess I just wanted to like it more than I did.
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