The Last September Paperback – 14 May 1998
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She is a major writer; her name should appear on any responsible list of the ten most important fiction writers on this side of the Atlantic this century. She is what happened after Bloomsbury...the link that connects Virginia Woolf with Iris Murdoch and Muriel Spark -- Victoria Glendinning
A strongly autobiographical portrait of a lost class marking out its final moments - every garden party, every house guest and every flirtation is touched by a sense of impending extinction ― Guardian
Posterity will one day return to Miss Bowen's novels as a repository of clues to the inner life of our times ― Sunday Telegraph
When I read [The Last September] I was knocked out by the sheer magnificence of her writing, the cinematic possibilities, and her obsession with the minutiae and the detail of life... I was totally gripped by the story -- Deborah Warner ― Glasgow Herald
About the Author
Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899, the only child of an Irish lawyer and landowner. She was educated at Downe House School in Kent. Her book Bowen's Court (1942) is the history of her family and their house in County Cork, and Seven Winters (1943) contains reminiscences of her Dublin childhood. In 1923 she married Alan Cameron, who held an appointment with the BBC and who died in 1952. She travelled a good deal, dividing most of her time between London and Bowen's Court, which she inherited.
Elizabeth Bowen is considered by many to be one of the most distinguished novelists of the twentieth century. Her first book, a collection of short stories, Encounters, appeared in 1923, followed by another, Ann Lee's, in 1926. The Hotel (1927) was her first novel, and was followed by The Last September (1929), Joining Charles (1929), another book of short stories, Friends and Relations (1931), To the North (1932), The Cat Jumps (short stories, 1934), The House in Paris (1935), The Death of the Heart (1938), Look at All Those Roses (short stories, 1941), The Demon Lover (short stories, 1945), The Heat of the Day (1949), Collected Impressions (essays, 1950), The Shelborne (1951), A World of Love (1955), A Time in Rome (1960), Afterthought (essays, 1962), The Little Girls (1964), A Day in the Dark (1965) and her last book Eva Trout (1969).
She was awarded the CBE in 1948, and received honorary degrees from Trinity College, Dublin in 1949, and from Oxford University in 1956. In the same year she was appointed Lacy Martin Donnelly Fellow at Bryn Mawr College in the United States. The Royal Society of Literature made her a Companion of Literature in 1965. Elizabeth Bowen died in 1973.
Victoria Glendinning is the author of several biographies: Elizabeth Bowen (1977); Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn among Lions (which won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, 1981); Vita, a life of Vita Sackville-West (joint winner of the Whitbread Award for the best biography, 1983); Rebecca West (1987); Jonathan Swift (1998) and Trollope.
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- Publisher : Vintage Classics (14 May 1998)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 009927647X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099276470
- Item Weight : 159 g
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Best Sellers Rank: #317,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Set in 1920, a house which has been an oasis of privilege, now has Sinn Fein gunmen on the periphery of the lawn; indeed, Lois, out walking in the garden, feels a man walking by her in the trees. A gunman? The inhabitants of the house are keen to downplay the danger and have a tendency to see the English as 'others,' in a way, so that they can cling to their own sense of belonging.
During the novel, there are visits. Many are neighbours, who are not only known to the Naylor's, but their ancestors are also familiar. They are part of a world that is in danger, but those who have lived for generations are loathe to admit the changes. When one visitor, Francie Montmorency ventures whether sitting on the steps in the evening may involve the risk of being shot at, she is genially decried as getting, 'very English.' Other visitors include young, English officers, who are ideal for tennis parties, but definitely seen as socially below the inhabitants of Danielstown,' and their neighbours.
Bowen covers some very important topics in this novel and many events are quite tragic. However, her writing is slow, personal and almost genteel at times. We see everything through the eyes of Lois, who is a young girl, just discovering the world and her place in it. I find this a really fascinating account of a time, and people, from an author who was very much an insider of that world and the characters she portrays.