REVIEW Ó The Last September


SUMMARY Ì GYM-APPAREL.CO.UK ´ Elizabeth Bowen Tain a skeptical attitude toward the events going on around them but behind the facade of tennis parties and army camp dances all know that the end is approaching the end of British rule in the south of Ireland and the demise The Last MOBI #204 of a way of life that had survived for centuries Their n. Very much like To the North this is Elizabeth Bowen finding her feet as a novelist Once again the narrative perspective is overly fidgety flitting from head to head I found only three characters warranted the attention given to them Lois Hugo and Lady Naylor The other characters were largely present to provide social comedy which is the task set the dialogue Their inner lives weren't very interesting Even the social comedy is largely derivative Forster's mischievous sympathy towards dreadful women looms large I've got a hunch Bowen only really discovered how to successfully structure a novel after she had fully assimilated the influence of Henry James a master architect But on every page Bowen surprises by just how brilliantly she can write when inspired It's often in the descriptive lyrical passages that Bowen announces her genius when she dramatizes the outside world as a register of her characters' inner lives The natural world in Bowen is often exemplary It foreshadows clarifies and criticises It is often unforgiving where Bowen is ostensibly generous; prophetic where she is ostensibly prosaic; caustic where she is ostensibly humorous It's often where all the defensive sophistications of Bowen's characters are exposed as little than fancy dress At the final count Elizabeth Bowen can write better than 99% of living novelists which is always a reason for reading even her minor early worksNB I watched twenty minutes of the film adaptation last night It was appalling I've never seen so many good actors in such a fatuous film Two salient characteristics of the book are that most of the drama takes place off stage and all the relationships are marriages of convenience products of disappointment and lack of courage The film changes all this; it also changes the central character Lois from a sophisticated knotted and cerebral young woman into a flighty flirtatious cliché in a white dress dancing among trees John Banville wrote the screenplay and confirmed all my misgivings about him as a writer uite simply Bowen wrote much better dialogue

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REVIEW Ó The Last September ¿ ❮PDF / Epub❯ ☀ The Last September ✈ Author Elizabeth Bowen – The Last September is Elizabeth Bowen's portrait of a young woman's coming of age in a brutalized time and place where the ordinariness of life floats like music over the impending doom of historyIn 1 The Last Sep Iece Lois Faruar attempts to live her own life and gain her own freedoms from the very class that her elders are vainly defending The Last September depicts the tensions between love and the longing for freedom between tradition and the terrifying prospect of independence both political and spiritual. Let's call it 35 starsWhen I first started this novel it reminded me of Troubles by JG Farrell Largely because of the time period and location I think But that story was seen through the eyes of an English war veteran and this one is largely told about a young Irish womanOne of the biggest realizations for me was how little these folks had to occupy themselves basically tennis long walks gossiping gardening and eating No one goes off to a job and there are maids and stable boys to do most of the actual work of running a household No wonder they have time to examine their relationships and doubt their choices so extravagantlyAlthough set in Post WWI s have only loosened a little and women are still very much expected to marry Lois and Laurence are both living with their aunt and uncle presumably because jobs are scarce and as Laurence tells someone he likes eating The Irish endured a heavy death toll during the Great War so I presume that is why both Lois and the neighbour girl Livvie spend a great deal of time with the young English soldiers who are stationed in Ireland to deal with the Republican movement It is this unsettled situation behind all of the characters which causes the seeming paralysis of the young people How can you plan a life when your environment has so much potential for change This household is torn between England and Ireland not knowing which way to lean or whether to commit themselves Lois knows which local men are in hiding while she plays tennis with the English soldiers cognitive dissonance that contributes to her lack of decisivenessIt is an unhappy time to be Anglo Irish not trusted by either side The ending though sad is hardly surprisingCross posted at my blog

Elizabeth Bowen ´ 1 REVIEW

The Last SeptemberThe Last September is Elizabeth Bowen's portrait of a young woman's coming of age in a brutalized time and place where the ordinariness of life floats like music over the impending doom of historyIn at their country home in County Cork Sir Richard Naylor and his wife Lady Myra and their friends main. I love to find mention of books within other books So it was that when I recently read The Awkward Age by Henry James I paid particular attention to a blue covered novel that had one of the characters' names inscribed in it I watched as the novel was passed around influencing the fate of several characters in the process and rewarding me for paying attention That episode reminded me of other stories in which books within books had moved the plot along A Room with a View for example where a red covered novel abandoned in a garden changes the course of the heroine's life A novel gets passed from one character to another in The Last September too and though there's no name inscribed on it as was the case with the blue covered book in 'The Awkward Age' there is a discussion about such an inscription which has to be an interesting coincidence However in spite of that coincidence I wasn't immediately reminded of 'The Last September' when I was thinking about books that play roles in other books If I reached up to the book shelf the other day where Elizabeth Bowen is perched between William Trevor and Molly Keane it was because a character trapped on the threshold of adulthood in 'The Awkward Age' had reminded me of a similar character in Bowen's novel I had only intended to remind myself of the character's name Lois Faruar as it turns out but I ended up rereading the novel all the way through And what a pleasure it was from the opening to the closing sentences I remember liking it when I first read it but I enjoyed it even second time round Perhaps reading so much Henry James recently has helped me appreciate Elizabeth Bowen's early twentieth century style better I enjoyed the subtle foreshadowing Behind the trees pressing in from the open and empty country like an invasion the orange bright sky crept and smouldered I noted the amount of things that are implied or left unsaid There was to be no opportunity for what he must not say to be rather painfully not saidBut I particularly savoured the descriptions Day still coming in from the fields by the south windows was stored in the mirrors in the sheen of the wallpaper In fact Bowen writes as if she's painting a picture or better still making a very beautiful film How's this for an opening shot About six o'clock the sound of a motor collected out of the wide country and narrowed under the trees of the avenue brought the household out in excitement onto the steps Up among the beeches a thin iron gate twanged; the car slid out from a net of shadow down the slope to the houseAs greetings are exchanged with the long awaited visitors Bowen turns her camera on Lois standing apart from the rest of the characters In those days girls wore crisp white skirts and transparent blouses clotted with white flowers; ribbons threaded through with a view to appearance appeared over their shoulders So that Lois stood at the top of the steps looking cool and fresh; she knew how fresh she must look like other young girls and clasping her elbows tightly behind her back tried hard to conceal her embarrassment The dogs came pattering out from the hall and stood beside her; above the vast façade of the house stared coldly over its mounting lawnsThe car with the luggage turned and went around the back deeply scoring the gravelShe wished she could freeze the moment and keep it alwaysBowen has frozen that moment perfectly The crisp white skirt and the muslin blouse will never yellow with age and future readers will hear again the motor's roar coming through the tunnel of trees the crunch of those heavy tyres on the gravel Though I've referenced film and camera angles I know they are only metaphors The film is playing on the page before our eyes; the words are doing the job of the camera And just as in the best movies the themes of the entire novel are flagged in the opening scene The girl though on the verge of adulthood is isolated from the others because she's not yet married not yet initiated into adult secrets; she is comfortable with the dogs than with the visitors though she's painfully self conscious and awkward about that verdant verge she's isolated upon And the house which is as much a main character as Lois herself has its future outlined in two simple words stared coldly They are a chilly breath from the future this is the last September of Lois's innocence and the last September the house will welcome visitors You'll have to read the book yourself to see how artfully Elizabeth Bowen fills in the story she has sketched in that powerful opening But what about the book within the book I hear you say What was its significance As was the case with the blue covered novel in the Henry James book I mentioned earlier the book in this story was relevant to the theme of the innocence of girls of an awkward age Lois's cousin Laurence gives the book not to Lois but to a sophisticated family friend Alhough he is not much older than Lois Laurence treats his cousin like a silly child and wouldn't dream of giving her a book that might corrupt her Bowen freuently uses Laurence to contrast the freedoms young men enjoy with the restrictions placed on young women like Lois At the end of September Laurence will continue his studies at Oxford but at least at the start of the book nothing so purposeful awaits Lois she has no university studies to return to no plans for any future occupation She's adriftThough he isn't present in many scenes in the book and the point of view mostly belongs to Lois or to certain other characters Bowen still gives Laurence some great lines including this little speech which nicely wraps up the themes of this review Last term I dropped a cigarette case into the Cher from the bridge at Parson's Pleasure It was a gold one flat and thin and curved for a not excessive smoker It was from the days when they wore opera cloaksIt was very period very virginal; I called it Henry James The book Laurence didn't give Lois had another significance which I couldn't have guessed until I started reading it Yes I immediately bought Laurence's book after I'd finished 'The Last September' and right now I'm a third of the way through itI'll fill you in on the further significances I discovered when I finish it It's called South Wind and it's by Norman DouglasLater edit I finished South Wind Wow