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The Eye of the Storm: A Novel

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
In White's 1973 classic, terrifying matriarch Elizabeth Hunter is facing death while her impatient children—Sir Basil, the celebrated actor, and Princess de Lascabane, an adoptive French aristocrat—wait. It is the dying mother who will command attention, and who in the midst of disaster will look into the eye of the storm. "An antipodean King Lear writ gentle and tragicomi ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Picador (first published 1973)
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Justin Evans
Mar 04, 2016 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
More like 4.5. Eye isn't quite what I expected. My favorite White novels are plutonium-dense, deeply flawed in some way (i.e., there are totally gratuitous events, or the characters never seem to interact in any meaningful way--either on the realistic plane of, you know, dialogue, or on the intellectual plane of "what does this holocaust survivor have to do with this indigenous Australian aside from the obvious, and the obvious really doesn't take 500 pages to point out?"), but so singularly odd ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dreaming to inherit big money a son and a daughter return to their terminally ill mother but even on her deathbed she remains a tyrant and keeps ruling with an iron fist.
“She also knew she had no desire to die however stagnant her life became: she only hoped she would be allowed to experience again that state of pure, living bliss she was now and then allowed to enter.”
Patrick White was a psychologically bottomless writer and in his merciless analysis of the family relationships in The Eye of th
Jan 03, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this just in time for the release of the Fred Schepsi film.

I was hoping, as I began reading Patrick White’s The Eye of the Storm, that there would be heaps of erudite reviews out there in cyberspace, to help me make sense of it so that I didn’t write anything really inane here. Alas, no, hardly anybody has tackled it so at this stage I am free to interpret it any way I like and few but experts skulking in academia will be any the wiser. I expect I’ve missed heaps. Patrick Whit
Joni Cornell
After much effort and commencing this book several times I managed to finish. It’s a very satisfying read though it can be hard going because of the stream of consciousness, which gives insight into the main characters as the narrative unfolds inside their minds (and so we can’t escape intimacy with them, or feeling what they do), and often with the ailing Elizabeth Hunter, her mind wanders into the past. The story is about those who gather at Elizabeth’s sick bed, those who nurse her and her ad ...more
Nicholas During
Sep 17, 2012 Nicholas During rated it really liked it
Nobody could say that Patrick White was not ambitious. Feel a bit hesitant to write much on this book since it's the territory of my dad and am more than happy to leave the territory to him. That said I'm in the habit of expressing my opinions here so I'll go on—though a warning, not that I believe anyone reads these reviews, don't comment with stuff about my dad's book about Patrick White. Alright?

Moving on. One can see why White was such a big deal in Australia. This is a big ambitious novel w
Apr 04, 2013 Snort rated it really liked it
Eager to right the wrong of YA fiction “Entice” (Jessical Shrivington) being the last Aussie-authored novel I read last year, I embarked (perhaps ambitiously) upon Patrick White’s “Eye of the Storm”. I had no intentions of punishing myself, but this is not a particularly easy read, and at 608 pages, is a Commitment. For those who are too weak to give this a bash, I highly recommend the recent movie adaptation.

Elizabeth Hunter is the dying matriach, living in the cruel grip of appetite. Her sight
Feb 04, 2014 Jenni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very challenging book to read, as the narrative is not self-explanatory and includes a lot of strange metaphors, a fair amount of French and German (didn't understand the German, but my understanding of the French helped a lot with the book, so I'm guessing I missed something in the German parts), and often goes into a stream of conciousness with missing punctuation.

If it wasn't for the extremely well built characters, I would have given up on this book a long time ago. However, the characters
Ashley Bettencourt
This was a boring read, I felt like I was forcing myself to read it and that's normally my que to stop reading it. Don't get me wrong well written, but as I am reading it I keep thinking "Ok, get to the point". For me, it felt like ramblings of everyday life rather than an actual story.
Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma
still struggling through this book. I want to put it down but I dont want to appear defeated....
Irene Sauman
White never has been one of my favourite authors. I would have liked to see the original television adaptation of this. It would have been a lot easier to get through.
The storyline is not unusual. Two middle-aged children come back to see what they can get from their wealthy 80-year old mother who is bedridden and expected to die - at some point. She, however, egotistical, unpleasant and self-serving, still controls their lives as well as the lives of her nurses, cook and family solicitor. The
Dec 12, 2016 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fiction, mexico
why two stars? Am not sure. I do know that i am not happy about reading this book. I wish i had not picked it up. Did not have any interest in ANY character. Spent way too much time on it. It so often happens for me that when i read a work by an author that has been awarded some great literary award, i am not happy with its reading. This book had some cleaver writing but just was not interesting to me. I have several more books by White
Jan 10, 2017 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread for book club. I am a White admirer and found this revisit worthwhile, though, because I have seen the film, I could only ever see the actors' faces and could not recall my initial impressions of the complex characters of White's imagining. This made for a completely different experience second time around. I was glad I was reading on a device so I could check the translations my schoolgirl French and German would not allow.
Kath (bookishae)
Mar 12, 2016 Kath (bookishae) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
When I started reading this book, I was confused about my feelings towards it. It was strangely fascinating and not at all what I expected. I'm not surprised that White was awarded with the Nobel prize.

The story is about an old woman, Elizabeth Hunter, who's on her death bed and still somehow maintains her strange kind of cruelty - and she keeps ruling with an iron fist. In the book we meet multiple people surrounding Elizabeth and we enter their minds along the way. We get to know their though
Feb 05, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm on page 287 and, while not exhausted, I feel dishevelled. This is my first Patrick White book, although I've seen a few plays and so I knew to expect a pithy serving of wordplay mixed with a jaded and disappointed view of humanity.
But, he was a Nobel Prize winner as well as the holder of numerous literary prizes and a one-time Australian of the Year, so I knew that I was supposed to approach the altar with the right amount of respect.
And, he's good. His writing and observations, when they hi
Sim Carter
My fellow blogger Louise at A Strong Belief in Wicker gave me an out when I wrote I was reading nobel laureate Patrick White's 1973 book "The Eye of the Storm" prior to seeing the movie.

"Oh dear, Patrick White is Hard. I've only read one- Fringe of Leaves. It took me 3 months to get through it. No one will think the less of you as a reader, or a person, if you have to give up!"

Would that I had listened! Louise is planning on skipping the book but seeing the film. I know this is a bit sacreligi
Patrick White's The Eye of the Storm - love it or hate it - is a dense, layered read with sustained flashes of brilliance and insight.

Aging actor Sir Basil Hunter and his sister Dorothy (Princesse de Lascabanes) fly home to attend what they hope to be the deathbed of their 86 year-old mother, Elizabeth Hunter. Elizabeth, born to grinding poverty, married well; a beautiful, witty, alluring socialite whose manipulative and cruel streak has alienated her children. Elizabeth, it seems, is not ready
Dec 18, 2016 NoBeatenPath rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
White uses the impending death of a matriarch to explore the universal themes of love, hate, death, jealousy, insecurity and family. He manages to quickly take the reader inside the complex world of the Hunter family, and the ancillaries to their world - the ex-spouses, the household staff, the friends and former lovers. While none of the characters are likeable, you find yourself drawn to continue reading just to find out more about them.

This book is not as good as White's masterpiece 'Voss', w
Sep 25, 2011 Adam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The worst thing about love between human beings....when you're prepared to love them they don't want it; when they do, it's you who can't bear the idea'... with those words, the character of Elizabeth Hunter is first etched. As my second Patrick White novel, this book allowed me to continue my fascination with words used, with incredible restraint, yet often intricately entwined. Even more so, I continue to marvel at White's ability to tap into the most basic of thoughts, often harshly jolting ...more
Apr 16, 2013 Makereta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't given this novel five stars and I suspect I have withheld the last star to teach the author a lesson for forcing me to acknowledge his genius despite my own discomfort. It doesn't normally take me so long to read a book. But like an adult child reluctantly drawn to yet another interminable and strained Christmas dinner - or to a death-bed in this instance! - I was in equal parts attracted and repelled by Patrick White's relentless narrative, his atrociously painful insights, his tortuo ...more
The novel tells the story of Elizabeth Hunter, the powerful matriarch of her family, who still maintains a destructive iron grip on those who come to farewell her in her final moments upon her deathbed.
"Dorothy was breathless with resentment for what she herself could no more than half-remember, had perhaps only half discovered - on the banks of the Seine? in dreams? as part of that greatest of all obsessions, childhood? and how could Elizabeth Hunter have got possession of anything so secret? O
Attenzione. Questo romanzo va maneggiato con cura. Non è un romanzo qualsiasi, pensato per intrattenere il lettore. Oh no. Non richiede lettori distratti e vanesi. Staccate i cellulari. Portatevi in un angolo discreto della vostra vita. E ancoratevi a qualcosa - sedia, divano o persona amata. Ma soprattutto abbiate coraggio. Entrare nell'occhio del vostro uragano

Se Mario Fortunato l'avesse scritto nella prefazione avrei subito riposto il libro in attesa di un momento migliore. Se io avessi let
Dec 07, 2012 Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The bed-ridden and semi-senile Elizabeth Hunter remains as predatory and self-centred as ever, while occasionally groping towards something more. "The Eye of the Storm" pulsates with image and language as it unearths not only her past but the present that past has made for her children and others around her. This is a book to drown in, and not only because it occasionally goes over my head: overwhelming in its stream of both petty and not-so-petty tragedies, at the same time the story is not com ...more
Jan 09, 2016 Marlee rated it did not like it
Ugh... That is really the only word that can accurately describe how I felt reading this book.
Why... This was the question I was constantly asking myself the whole time I was reading it.
What was this book? What actually happened in this book? Why so many damn time jumps?
I was so confused throughout this book, my mind thought it was better just to go to sleep... I never fall asleep during a book, so that's saying something. I can't say anything positive about this book, so I won't even bother.
Gail Zachariah
This is a really long book and you get to know a host of unlikeable characters that come together during the last days of an aged, wealthy socialite. The old woman's quest for the transcendent is revealed and the complex relationships of her family and associates explored. Even though I didn't like any of the characters, I did find myself drawn into the complext relationship of the family, friends, and employees.
Travis Bird
Jun 04, 2008 Travis Bird rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody; not even a monkey I didn't like.
Reviewing the Jack Higgins book of the same title reminded me of this. I detest everything that the sickly old bastard wrote but this, amongst it all, I despise the most. I had to read it as part of a university unit on Australian literature. I'll refrain from using the language here that I reserve for this author but I have a blog where I speak more plainly. Check it out at
George Ilsley
Patrick White is an astonishing writer, but his books are not always easy to approach. This novel I started many times but I never got far. Books can be mysterious creatures, can they not? Sometimes they grab you and other times leave you cold. For whatever reasons, I started this book and the voice spoke to me and there you have it: an elderly women and her life in Australia.
May 29, 2012 BookAddict rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I had to let this go for now- life's too short and I've gone there before with books like Point Counter Point and The Secret History (rich people behaving appallingly). I might try again in a few years.
Apr 08, 2013 Berthe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisitely, intimately observed characters yet White spares nobody. He is alternately scathing and empathetic. Can't wait to read more by this brilliant author... perhaps The Tree of Man or The Aunt's Story next.
Christopher Bounds
The great thing about Patrick is that, when you have read one of his books, you really know you have read one of his books… I enjoyed the satire and humour of this book – probably as close as he ever got to a satire?
Oct 02, 2011 Robyn333 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Robyn333 by: Because the movie was coming I wanted to read it first
This is my first Patrick White and I loved it. the story line is much more elaborate and touchs so many areas of a normal life.
His language is amazing, the descriptions of common place processes are just so elaborate which makes everything visual. I really enjoyed this book.

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Patrick Victor Martindale White was an Australian author widely regarded as one of the major English-language novelists of the 20th century. From 1935 until death, he published twelve novels, two short story collections, eight plays, and non-fiction. His fiction freely employs shifting narrative vantages and the stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literat ...more
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