Review: Elizabeth Bowen’s “The Death of the Heart”
This book reminded me very strongly of Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star, in that it traces the aborted revelation of a young girl’s empty self. Very strongly. Bowen’s novel is carefully crafted, very carefully framed, evidently she’s a craftswoman, but ultimately oh so bleak: “an anatomisation of human emptinesses” is the best précis I can devise. Heroine Portia is formlessness, pseudo-boyfriend Eddie is vicious flightiness, sister-in-law Anna is bourgeois apathy, brother Thomas is urbane disregard… Etc. Bowen’s dialogue is sharp (I think it’s meant to be funny, but I missed that) and her social acuity is impressive, but I can’t say I enjoyed this book. It’s never pleasurable to be taken this close to the void.
Where it came from: Opshop
Time and manner of reading: Several reads, with moderate interest by the end
Where it went: KAM
Reminds me of: The Hour of the Star
Who I’d recommend it to: Readers interested in the niceties of character dissection
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; Selected Essays by George Orwell; Picturing Canada by Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman (just the images)