The Death of the Heart

The Death of the Heart

Book - 2000
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A piercing story of innocence betrayed at a 1930s British seaside resort.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 2000
Edition: First Anchor Books edition
Copyright Date: ©1966
ISBN: 9780385720175
0385720173
Branch Call Number: FIC BOWEN 2000
Characteristics: 418 pages ; 21 cm

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e
esrobbins
Mar 28, 2021

Well, I finished it but it was a slow plod. This would be a great book to read with others so you could talk about the all the subtle things going on. On my own, I felt I was having to pay attention really hard or I was missing a lot. It was not a fun book to pick up at the end of the day. It felt like work.

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dgiard
Aug 17, 2020

"The Death of the Heart" by Elizabeth Bowen is the story of Portia - a teenage orphan living in 1930s London with her half brother Thomas and his wife Anna, who are not thrilled to have her. Portia is courted by twenty-something Eddie, who tells her he loves her. But she is disappointed and disillusioned when Eddie turns out to be a cad. Portia is an awkward child, largely due to her isolated upbringing, so she doesn't understand the insensitivity of those around her. Nearly everyone in her life is courteous, but cold.

The strength of this novel is its dialogue. Bowen captures perfectly the austere tone and small talk of polite English society. Her prose also paints a clear picture of the settings and the characters.

While weak on plot, presents a satirical look at the hypocrisy and dishonesty of people across various classes. It gives the reader a feeling for Portia's disillusionment, as her expectations of those around her are shattered. It is a story of teen angst and of the shallowness of just about all the characters.

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lukasevansherman
May 05, 2019

Considered by some to one of the great English novels of the century, Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen's "The Death of the Heart," originally published in 1938, will likely feel strange and distant to a contemporary reader. At times it reads like Evelyn Waugh without a sense of humor or Henry James without the obscurity.

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maipenrai
Dec 03, 2017

I wanted to like this book, but the author's use of archaic English language forms sometimes made the story incomprehensible. I know the book was written in 1938, but having read several authors of the same era and even a century earlier, I found the wording and thought process to be unnecessarily obscure. I had hoped to have discovered a new author to read, but for me this book was a disappointment. Kristi & Abby Tabby

Manateestarz Jun 02, 2016

Well, I finished it.
I think any fan of Downtown Abbey would do well to read this book. For one thing you learn more about the upper classes in England and their language. You realize how much speech has changed since the 1930's. If the characters in Downton Abbey really talked the way these characters do instead of introducing anachronisms like,"he wears many hats" and "learning curve",viewers would be lost.

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uncommonreader
Sep 12, 2013

This novel tells the story of 16 year old Portia, recently orphaned, who moves from the Continent to London to live with her half-brother and his wife. She falls "in love" with an empty 23 year old and come to feel betrayed by all adults. Her fate is left unclear. Bowen cracks the veneer of upper middle class English life and its illusions. A classic of its kind.

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lisahiggs
Jun 03, 2013

This is the kind of book I’m supposed to be getting more out of as I work on becoming more well-read. But I just didn’t get anything out of this, not even a good review. This is supposed to be a classic, or at least an important, book from the 1930s, but it just made me drowsy and dopey plodding through it and it was hard to pick up on the subtleties going on. And in 1930s British parlour rooms, it’s all about subtleties.

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lisahiggs
Jun 03, 2013

Having put his glass down on the carpet, Thomas boldly swung his legs up on to the bed and stretched out on [Anna's] immaculate quilt. “I don’t think that bath has done you much good. Why can’t you just dress and why can’t I just lie here? We don’t have to keep on saying anything. However much of a monster you may be, I feel more natural with you than I feel with more natural people – if there are such things.”

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lisahiggs
Jun 03, 2013

"I suppose you do know that that ruins my quilt?”

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