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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Last September / Edition 1

Last September / Edition 1

by Elizabeth Bowen
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About the Author:

ELIZABETH BOWEN (1899-1973), a central figure in London literary society, who counted among her friends Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, is widely considered to be one of the most distinguished novelists of the modern era, combining psychological realism with an unparalleled gift for poetic impressionism. Born in Dublin in 1899, the only child of an Irish lawyer/landowner and his wife, Bowen spent her early summers on the family's estate in County Cork. Called Bowen's Court, the house and its land were the direct inspiration for the setting of Danielstown in The Last September.

Among the most notable books of her long and prolific career were: Joining Charles (1929); Friends and Relations (stories, 1931); To the North (1932); The Cat Jumps (stories, 1934); The House in Paris (1935); The Death of the Heart (1938); Look at All Those Roses (stories, 1941); Bowen's Court (memoir, 1943); The Demon Lover (stories, 1945); The Heat of the Day (1949); A World of Love (1955); A Time in Rome (1960); Eva Trout (1969); and the posthumously published collection, Pictures and Conversations (1975).

In addition to her books, Bowen lectured widely and was a frequent contributor to such periodicals as the New Statesman and The Nation, Tatler, the Saturday Review of Literature, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine and Harper's.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900385720143
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/28/2000
Edition description: 1 ANCHOR
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899. She wrote many acclaimed novels, including The Heat if the Day and Eva Trout. She was awarded the CBE (Commander if the Order of the British Empire) in 1948. She died in 1973.

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The Last September 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
autumnesf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Honestly - this was a plotless and pointless book. Good thing the author writes well or it would have been a total bust.
cushlareads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After about 20 pages of this book I thought I'd found a new favourite author. Thie novel is set in Ireland at the time of the Troubles (early 1920s). It's centred around an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family who live at Danielstown, and Bowen writes beautifully about the countryside and Ireland. I fell asleep at that point but woke up wanting to keep reading.That changed pretty quickly, because I kept waiting to find a character whom I liked. I waited for 300 pages and I wish I'd quit while I was still impressed with the prose. Somebody please, please tell me that Elizabeth Bowen gets better, or that I have missed the point, but I just **did not care** what happened to Lois, Gerald, Marda, Francie, Hugo, Laurence, the Naylors, Lizzie, David, or anybody else.*spoilers, not huge ones, but some.* Our heroine is about 18, the orphaned niece of the subtly unpleasant Lady Naylor. She lives at Danielstown, a very very big house, and is waiting for something to happen to her (probably for a husband to appear). A likely prospect does just that - Gerald, who's a subaltern in the English Army, over to put down the local resistance. Lois is not too sure about Gerald to start with but he seems to give her something to think about. Gerald has no money and no family. He's also a bit drippy. Lots more happens with Lois and Gerald, and Lady Naylor shows herself to be a conniving old so-and-so.Laurence is Lois's cousin, also orphaned but on Sir Richard Naylor's side of the family. He at least had some personality, but it was an unpleasant one. Sir Richard was ok, but hardly says anything.Hugo and Francie Montmorency visit the Naylors for a long long long time. Hugo was once in love with Lois's mum Laura, but is now married to Francie, who is fragile (and seemed nice enough). They spend their lives visiting - their stuff is in storage.Marda, the next visitor, upsets everyone - Hugo falls in love with her (not clear why), but she is about to marry an English man. Nobody believes that she will, but she does. I think I was meant to like Marda, but I really did not. Lois is infatuated with her, possibly because she at least was not a wet blanket.Lizzie is Lois's friend, who talks another subaltern into getting engaged, then cannot tell anyone for ages. LThis book had such great potential for me - I love books like this but I have to like at least one of the characters. I do feel like I might have missed some huge literary thing here, because I just read without really knowing much about How To Read a Novel, but that has done me pretty well for several decades... Her writing has the potential to be wonderful. There were some funny, really cutting scenes concerning English attitudes to the locals, and the background about the English in Ireland was interesting, but nowhere near enough for me to want to read this book.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't have much to say here--I found the writing uninspired, and the characters unlikable as well as uninteresting. I might have enjoyed this had it been a novella, but as is, it simply dragged on for me with one needless character blending into another even as one meaningless conversation blended into one more. Simply, I saw the intent, but was incredibly bored by the process and outcome.
wandering_star on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The core of The Last September is the story of a young woman (Lois) coming of age in a grand country house. But if you think from that description that you know what to expect, you're probably wrong. Yes, there's a young man on the horizon, yes, there are family tensions, and yes, there are elements of the awkward comedy of class stratifications. But the focus is much more on the psychological - so, for example, one of the house guests (a married man) becomes attracted to another visitor. Nothing actually happens between them - but the book focuses on the emotional ripples it sends through the house (as it turns out, everyone is aware of the attraction). One very funny - but poignant - scene shows a conversation between the two, where she is uncomfortably aware of his feelings, and trying - without being blunt - to head off any declaration of devotion.Lois is extremely self-conscious in her new adulthood, always seeing herself from outside. She knows she is supposed to be fun-loving, reckless and happy, and she tries to appear so, largely in order to fit in. But she is always unsure of what she should do. Walking with her young admirer Gerald, "conscious of many people's attention, she did not know if she seemed enviable or foolish". The relationship between them is also beautifully drawn. Gerald is uncomplicatedly in love with her, and while she does not care for him in the same way - indeed, she hopes that life and love will hold something more for her - she is still much more conscious of him, his feelings, his presence, than he is of her. Ultimately, both of them are trapped by the artificiality of the social structures which surround them - mainly in terms of the 'acceptable' ways in which men and women are permitted to interact.The background to all this is aristocratic Anglo-Irish life in the 1920s, painted as very much dislocated from the land. Life in the house is all empty formality, and the grand families are both patronised by the recently arrived English military families and alienated from the rural Irish families who live around them. There is a lot of depth to this as well - another reader might have focused as much on the question of Anglo-Irishness or on the symbolism of the house and land as on Lois' character.Reading this back, it all sounds rather depressing. But this was a book I really enjoyed reading - it contains a lot of humour and acute psychological insight, as well as just being beautifully written. This is one of those books where you feel that every sentence has weight, even if sometimes the significance is only apparent later. It almost feels like a distillation of a much thicker book. Several times I flicked back through the pages and was surprised to find that an incident which I remembered as pretty significant had only taken a page or so to describe. I've never read Bowen before, but I would compare her to Chekhov (not least for the way that perspectives of life open out with a visitor to the house, only to narrow again) and Woolf (for the psychological acuteness).
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The novel is set in 1920 and while the Irish war of independence rages outside the gates of their County Cork home, Sir Richard Naylor and his Anglo-Irish family continue their privileged life of tea and tennis. Bowen's 1929 novel is a strongly autobiographical portrait of a lost class marking out its ¿nal moments ¿ every garden party, every house guest and every ¿irtation is touched by a sense of impending extinction, all delineated by her precise prose. One more reason to return to Elizabeth Bowen for good reading.
agentsam008 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fairly plotless so it was hard to engage in. There are two many silences in the novel - the characters pretend not to notice the reality of the world outside Danielstown - and in a way Bowen may have done this deliberately to present how the Irish treasure memory. Thus a fine picture depicting the attitudes of the Anglo-Irish in 1920 Ireland but very static as a novel.
ltimmel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is, at its most obvious level, a comedy of manners. A few days after finishing it, I find myself speculating about Elizabeth Bowen's choice of writing about the overthrow of British rule in Ireland by way of this particular form. Bowen was a modernist, and so I can easily imagine that while writing this novel she might have been wary of falling into a nostalgic tone; so perhaps that accounts for her choice. This "comedy" ends not in marriage, though, but in a series of departures and separations, a violent offstage death, and the post-narrative burning down of the primary scene of the story. The narrative is pretty much fixed on an Anglo-Irish aristocratic circle whose status and way of life depend entirely on British rule-- but not only on their complex, finely drawn interpersonal relations, but also (or especially) on the ironies of that dependence. I suppose Bowen's interest in the ironies are, actually, fairly well served by a comedy of manners. The best bits for me, though, are the occasional moments in the narrative when the atmosphere rather than the characters' quirks and interpersonal tensions dominates the narrative. My favorite example of this is the first description of an abandoned mill that a few paragraphs later becomes the scene of an awkward collision between the comedy of manners and the scene of political strife that constantly strains against the limits of comedy of manners:Mounting the tree-crowded, steep slope some roofless cottages nestled under the flank of the mill with sinister pathos. A track going up the hill from the gateless gateway perished among the trees from disues. Banal enough in life to have closed this valley to the imagination, the dead mill now entered the democracy of ghostliness, equalled broken palaces in futility and sadness; was transfigured by some response of the spirit, showing not the decline of its meanness, simply decline; took on all of a past to which it had given nothing.That last sentence could almost be taken for the novel's summing up of the castles and mansions that burn, and the aristocrats who evacuate the scene, at the end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story moved at a fast pace for me because always in the background of these characters' lives is the suspense of a future of turbulence, a future that most of them do not foresee. They don't realize that they're resented by their long time Irish neighbors and treated in a condescending manner by them, never a thought that these neighbors who they've known for years might be plotting against them. They are unknowingly being enclosed in a world of danger, a world they thought was theirs, the English world in Ireland just before the Irish war for independence. The author tells the reader all this through her characters, their conversations, their thoughts. I thought this author's writing style was a unique and interesting way to write about this time in Ireland's history.