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View Of The Harbour
Elizabeth Taylor
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View Of The Harbour

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  483 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
An unforgettable portrait of love, loss, and keeping up appearances.

The war over, retired naval officer Bertram comes to a quiet fishing village intending to paint. Curious, and with that strangely unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying instead to do good, he begins delving into every corner of the picturesque backwater. There’s a lot going on beneath

Published (first published 1947)
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Jan 23, 2017 Sub_zero rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2017
Elizabeth Taylor demuestra en esta novela tener un maravilloso don para la introspección y la creación de personajes tan vívidos como intrincados. Sirviéndose de una pintoresca localidad pesquera como escenario y los primeros años tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial como contexto histórico, Taylor despliega ante el lector un lienzo donde se suceden de manera sutil y siempre significativa hermosos brochazos que nos permiten acceder a los rincones más secretos de sus habitantes. Desde un oficial de la ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I live in one harbour-town, I work in another, and Elizabeth Taylor swept me away to another harbour-town in another age. To Newby, a small town on the south coast just after the war.

Bertram Hemingway, a retired naval man, was a newcomer to the town. He intended to spend his days painting views of the harbour. He enjoyed the company of women, he enoyed being involved in the life of the town, but he gave no thought to the possibility that some would read much more than he meant into the interest
Rebecca Foster
My third Taylor – not as good as Mrs. Palfrey, but better than Angel. It’s about the everyday family and romantic entanglements of a small English harbor village in the 1940s. Beth is a preoccupied writer who doesn’t notice that her husband, the local doctor, is carrying on an affair with her best friend, the divorcée Tory, who is also their next-door neighbor. Only Beth and Robert’s daughter Prudence, true to her name, realizes what’s going on. Other main characters include a paralyzed woman on ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my third Elizabeth Taylor novel and I think so far this must be the best of the bunch so far. As in the previous novels written by this author it deals with the theme of loneliness. In a nutshell the story is an observation of occupants within a small row of buildings in a coastal fishing town. I could warm to all the characters in this novel even Mrs Bracey, who from the outset could be seen as a nosy busybody, however as the story developed I really sympathised for her having to spend ...more
Jun 27, 2011 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taylor is one of the least sentimental writers I know, and that's a good thing because sentimentality irritates the crap out of me. She knows people are pretty sad and messed up and shallow and selfish and foolish most of the time, and she sees them with a steely clarity that can be a bit disconcerting at times. She also feels no compunction to tidy up all her narrative threads; there are no clear answers or tidy conclusions in this book, just people muddling on with things. As we do (but as fic ...more
Mar 08, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read as part of the Elizabeth Taylor centenary celebrations of the Librarything Virago group – fellow virago readers beware – spoilers ahead.

A View of the Harbour was Elizabeth Taylor’s third published novel. The setting is a delight, a rather down at heel seaside town, with a wonderful cast of characters. There is the invalided and irascible Mrs Bracey and her two daughters, lonely, widowed Lily Watson, living above the waxworks, who goes to The Anchor to break up the evening. Beth a writer liv
"'Interesting,' he observed, 'what two people can make of the same view. We all see places a bit different to what the next man does."

So, what other readers see in this book? A brilliant study of a human loneliness? A moving story about perfectly not perfect people? Photo album with caught magic in every day life? I see it all in this great book. I am so much touched that is almost hard to write all I want to.

Someone could say it is just a story about a sleepy town, somewhere on English coast, s
Aug 20, 2014 KJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! Have been meaning to read Elizabeth Taylor for years and am so glad that I did finally get round to it. This is a fabulous masterclass in brilliant writing. Of all the 35-ish books I've read this year, this is probably the most elegantly written, while remaining totally accessible.

The lives of a group of people in a small seaside town just after WWII might not seem the most promising material with which to work, but in Taylor's expert hands it sings.

Anyone considering a career in wri
Sep 29, 2014 Radiantfracture rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, favorites
Miraculous technique. The sweep of the lighthouse becomes the mover of the novel. It compels the structure -- a series of fluidly interlinked scenes from lives in a backwater of the British coast -- and the circling progression of the novel. There's something of Woolf in the structure, though not in the wonderfully wrought but conventional prose.

I did not always find the psychology of the characters compelling, but the novel's quiet, shifting movement fascinated me throughout.
Alison Shakspeare
Elizabeth Taylor needs to be shouted about. A twentieth century Jane Austen! and so say all my book group.
Oct 22, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lot of unhappy people inhabit the fishing village chosen as the setting of Elizabeth Taylor’s A View from the Harbour. Loneliness and disappointment seep out from almost every house that sits on the sea-front. Even the town of Newby seems in its twilight years with few visitors since the focus moved to the new town around the point. All that’s left is a furniture shop with chipped china, a tobacconist whose windows are full of faded postcards and gifts that no-one wants to buy, a wax work ...more
Sep 23, 2014 Roberta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classici-moderni, uk, 2015
La vista del porto del titolo non si riferisce solamente al quadro che Bertram, ufficiale della marina in pensione, cerca di dipingere, ma anche all'affresco dell'autrice dell'umanità che popola la cittadina costiera di Newby. Bertram è qui perché vuole reinventarsi come pittore, ma finisce con il prestare più attenzione ai suoi nuovi vicini di casa che alle sue creazioni artistiche, e la sua attenzione funge da catalizzatore per tutta una serie di situazioni. Come dice Simon nella sua bella rec ...more
Kirsty Darbyshire

Nothing wrong with this, it just took me a long time to read it. It didn't hold my attention enough to get through it at any reasonable pace, and it wasn't uninteresting enough to put down. Faint praise I know. There was one very good storyline with good characters: Tory having an affair with her best friend Beth's husband, and Beth's daughter Prudence's take on it; and another storyline with Maisie and her dying mother that didn't go anywhere much that I could see - the book didn't quite seem t

Lucy Bledsoe
Jul 01, 2015 Lucy Bledsoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Amazing writing and storytelling. A lot like Alice Munro in revealing the quiet but passionate lives of her characters. Deeply feminist in that wonderful historical way. First published in 1947 and reissued by New York Review Books last year. I highly recommend. So smart and nuanced.
Oct 05, 2014 Priscilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How beautifully crafted and rich this book is! It is a rare pleasure to read Elizabeth Taylor's novels. I am committed to going back and reading those I've already read. A real joy to read such subtle writing.
Jun 16, 2016 Katrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an enjoyable read despite having very few likeable characters and having the quite depressing setting of a post war shabby coastal town in England.
Jul 13, 2016 Kirsty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Taylor’s A View of the Harbour is another of the gorgeous books which I received for Christmas. I very much adored Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, and heartily enjoyed A Game of Hide and Seek, and so it was only natural that I would have high hopes for the novel. Sarah Waters’ introduction in this volume is clearly sympathetic towards the author, and is very nicely written. It is always refreshing, I think, to have an author who is so enthused about the book which they are introducing, a ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One reaches the end of A View of the Harbour with a vaguely discontented, "oh, surely not." It seems that Elizabeth Taylor, the creator-god of shabby quayside Newby with its four women, four girls, and two men and two boys, could have ordered things better. Could have not left such a muddle. On the other hand, why ought she when the Creator-God of our own world doesn't seem to deign it necessary. When you look at the closing scene again, it then seems a tidy stitch-up. Perhaps it is; perhaps it ...more
It doesn't seem like very much happens in this book, but it actually does. It's my kind of book, but it left me quite empty, so that's why three stars. I enjoyed Taylor's writing and I look forward to reading other novels by her but...
This novel is about a small town in the coast, now in decay, and it starts with the arrival of Bertram Hemingway – a former sailor and now fully dedicated to painting, without much success – to this little town. I really loved how Taylor describes de character
Jul 15, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting book to read.
It is set in a Cornish harbour town not long after the second world war.
It portrays a picture of a certain time.
It is fairly slow moving but I suspect the characters will stay with me for a long time.
Elizabeth Taylor is a good author and if you like her perhaps more well known books then you will also like to read this to find out more about her as an author.

(possible mild spoiler in next sentence if you havent read the book)...........

I like the ending at the
Jan 02, 2014 Sweetmongoose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. So well written and intriguing. Carefully constructed but not obviously so. A fairly large cast of characters. Read a comment that the book is about women's lives, that there are characters from every stage in a woman's life, and that is so. I found it sad - but it was also deft and witty. There were many "oh!" moments - wonderful lines. The last couple of paragraphs were a bit of a twist, left me with many questions. Hard to leave these characters and move on. Impressive writ ...more
Jun 20, 2015 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I do not know why I was not exposed to reading Elizabeth Taylor in school. Her depictions of everyday life and how she makes these so special is phenomenal. Her writing is captivating. Her dialogue is realistic, and her descriptions are thorough. I would have gained so much more from reading her prose than that which I was forced to read. This author is definitely underrated. This is the second book I've read of Ms. Taylor's and it won't be the last.
Jun 26, 2016 kp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is easy for people to dismiss a writer like Taylor as domestic or "easy," but those who do do would be missing the incisiveness with which we draws casual callousness, moral ambivalence, the varieties of love and the pitfalls and tragedies of ordinary relationships as well as the tension between individual hearts and the world they encounter and help to make. She is also a master stylist, an inheritor of Forster, Austen, and Waugh.
I liked this one, read it for Great Group Reads this year. It felt old-fashioned, but still made me think about los of things -- not being good at your art (or your life?), faking it, even to oneself. What happens to people in the presence of a curious stranger, Lying to self or others in order to survive psychologically...
I've read two previous books by Taylor (Angel and Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont) and really loved both of them. This one: not so much. The writing is lovely and subtle (and that's what got me to three stars), but this one has far less of the snark and humor that made the other two so enjoyable. It's really understated and, in the end, I was just a little bit bored.
Polly James
Jan 14, 2015 Polly James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Bowen's comment (as quoted on the back cover of this book) is completely accurate: "Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning point in one's experience".

Subtle, understated, marvellously well-characterised and exceptionally haunting, I'm pretty sure this book will stay with me.

Aug 25, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I had read most of the first chapter, I thought I probably wouldn't read much further. Several hours later I awoke from reading and realized that, without knowing it, I had become totally immersed. The characters, the good, the mean and spiteful, the oblivious, and the lonely, become neighbors. And the writing is beautiful in such a quiet way that it slides right into place.
The more I read of Elizabeth Taylor the more I like her. Sharply-drawn portraits of all characters, vivid details of everyday life, are all rendered superbly. The novel opens quite cinematically with an overview of all the residences on the harbour and all the inhabitants of those places comprise the story of one season. Just marvelous.
Gareth Evans
Dec 25, 2013 Gareth Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barbara Pym with far sharper claws and somewhat (only somewhat this is 1940s highbrow women's fiction after all) racier characters. Really quite depressing (in a good way). Would make a good plot for an opera for sub standard Benjamin Brittain.
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Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles) was a popular English novelist and short story writer. Elizabeth Coles was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1912. She was educated at The Abbey School, Reading, and worked as a governess, as a tutor and as a librarian.

In 1936, she married John William Kendall Taylor , a businessman. She lived in Penn, Buckinghamshire, for almost all her married life.

Her first novel, At Mr
More about Elizabeth Taylor...

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“The most sensible thing to do to people you hate is to drink their brandy.” 21 likes
“Interesting,' he observed, 'what two people can make of the same view. We all see places a bit different to what the next man does.” 0 likes
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