In The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen brilliantly recreates the tense and dangerous atmosphere of London during the bombing raids of World War II.
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.
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.19(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899. She wrote many acclaimed short stories and novels, including The Heat of the Day, The Death of the Heart, The Last September, and Eva Trout. She was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1948. She died in 1973.
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Excerpted from "The Heat of the Day"
Copyright © 2002 Elizabeth Bowen.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A few months ago I read The Last September, by the same author, and was blown away - I'd barely heard of her before, and I found myself wondering why I ever read any books that were less good.The Heat Of The Day, however, was more of a slow burner for me. Partly this is because less happens - partly because the structure of the narrative is harder to figure out - and partly because the moral and emotional issues in the book are more dated. (One of the things which made The Last September so amazing for me was the psychological acuity about a young woman awkwardly coming of age - but it's a lot harder for me to judge whether this book is an accurate portrayal of what it feels like when you are told your lover is a spy.)That said, there were some things I really liked about the book - for example, the way the first few chapters established the sense that because of the war, everyone had lost their roots - their traditions - and even their selves. By the end of the book I had decided that the apparent lack of structure might be deliberate - to convey the lack of grounding in people's lives during the war.
Elizabeth Bowen is a very good writer with a propensity for writing about unlikable characters. There are some passages in "The Heat of the Day" that get at the heart of an experience the way that Woolf and Proust do, allowing you to see beauty in what seems to be a common occurrence. Then there are others, usually during dialogue, where Bowen's ethereal style seems to get away from her, and it's almost like she's just writing to herself. Of course, the plot here is negligible: my copy has a blurb on the cover saying it's like "a Graham Greene thriller projected through the sensibility of Virginia Woolf", but it's definitely more Woolf than Greene, with all of the "thrills" coming from the uncertainty inherent in human relationships. Overall, it's a good book with some great bits sprinkled throughout, but it was just slightly off the mark somehow. This is the second book by Bowen I've read and I've had mixed feelings about both, but there's enough potential greatness in her writing to make me want to keep reading her.
Great story, great characters, great voice... one of those novels you have to savor. The PBS DVD of the story also is quite good... but read the novel first.