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The World In The Evening

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  363 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Against the backdrop of World War II, The World in the Evening charts the emotional development of Stephen Monk, an aimless Englishman living in California. After his second marriage suddenly ends, Stephen finds himself living with a relative in a small Pennsylvania Quaker town, haunted by memories of his prewar affair with a younger man during a visit to the Canary Island ...more
Paperback, 402 pages
Published November 15th 1999 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1954)
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(showing 1-30)
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J.
Jul 09, 2014 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

... I woke up next morning in the police station without a centime. I had a splitting headache and I must have been dumped in some gutter, for my clothes were filthy. This adventure made me unreasonably indignant. Paris had betrayed me, I felt. It had treated me like a common tourist. The city wasn't friendly, as I'd imagined. It was a nest of cheap, cold-blooded crooks. I suddenly hated it. Two days later, I'd left for Germany. Berlin was a complete contrast. Outwardly, it was graver, stiffer a
...more
Chris
Jan 28, 2011 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly mutilayered phsychological journey of how the main character, Stephen Monk, grows up out of his youthful shell into an adult. Isherwood covers a lot of ground here in 301 pages: jealousy, the appropriateness of marriage, Quakerism, Nazi Germany and World War II (it wouldn't be Isherwood without this), Hollywood, New York, Paris, age differences in relationships, gay-straight friendships, homosexual militancy, the value and meaning of literature, mysticism...and there is even ...more
M.
Apr 28, 2014 M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's an unsettling quietness in Isherwood's writing and narration that continues to fascinate me. He shares Shirley Jackson's gift for turning mundane every day life events into life-defining moments, minus the chilling effect that settles in afterward.

This story here, like all Isherwood stories, is much more than the sum of its parts, and is particularly difficult to describe without going off on all sorts of tangents. Mostly because it's one of those great-impact novels that touch on so man
...more
Dan
May 14, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying I'm partial to Isherwood. His Prater Violet is perhaps my favorite novel of all time. The World in the Evening, however, may be a close runner-up. Isherwood oscillates between epistolary and straight-forward narrative, for a rather haunting, heart-felt experience that eschews sentimentality. It's the story of Stephen Monk, a wealthy young man who meanders throughout the world in the company of his wife, Elizabeth Rydal - a celebrated British author - in the early '30s. As ...more
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
Jun 09, 2014 Bree (AnotherLookBook) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of mid-century lit & books on memory
A novel about a man in pre-WWII Europe and America who, while bedridden at his Quaker aunt’s house, reflects on his first marriage and the dissolution of his second. 1954.

Full review (and other recommendations!) at Another look book

I received my copy via Goodreads' First Reads program, which is awesome, because this is the first book I've won! The World in the Evening isn't the kind of book I'm usually draw to. It's navel-gazely--fine by me--but it's a man's navel, and I tend to sympathize bette
...more
Stuart
Apr 04, 2017 Stuart rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
...As I emptied my glass, “ I really do forgive myself, from the bottom of my heart?”

Hmmm...
I can’t say I enjoyed this. I wanted to. I expected to. My first Isherwood and perhaps I should’ve started with The Berlin Stories. I’m trying to forgive myself, from the bottom of my heart.

As I hydroplaned over the surface I kept thinking, the next page I’ll start to dive and submerge, stop thinking about why I’m not enjoying it. But after the halfway point I decided, it’s not me, it’s you book. I don’t

...more
Sara
Mar 06, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Slightly tedious at times, but mostly like one of those fabulously glamorous movies where Kristin Scott-Thomas and Matthew Goode lounge around with cocktails, ogling both sexes and griping about that beastly war. I enjoyed Isherwood's matter-of-fact treatment of homosexuality; however, I didn't find his narrator to be nearly as interesting as his tragic wife. The women bring this book to life, and as one of the first mentions of camp in 20th century literature, that's how it should be.
Joyce
Considering the range of topics that Mr Isherwood covers (Quakerism, WWII, Nazism, the wide spectrum of human relationships to name a few) in The World in the Evening, I'm surprised the book is not longer. But then again, Isherwood has demonstrated to me before (in A Single Man) that every sentence and line in his works has purpose, and contributes in weaving a final complex yet fully satisfying and very thoughtful piece of literature.

The blurb for this book should be sufficient starting ground
...more
Steve
Apr 16, 2012 Steve rated it liked it
Isherwood's novels can, at times, give the impression of having been written by the love child of E.M. Forster and Noel Coward. They are full of deep introspection, lively wit, and an attention to style that is captivating in its own right. 'The World in the Evening' displays this quality perfectly. At times, the dialogue verges on the precious, but it never breaks the engaging pace of the story.

I was reminded in many ways of two related novels of Edith Wharton ('The Gods Arrive' and 'Hudson Ri
...more
Alvin
Oct 25, 2016 Alvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isherwood's talent for explicating emotional intelligence is on full display here, and most of the main characters are devastatingly real. Larger moral and political questions dealing with pacifism, social responsibility, and the relation of camp to religiosity, are seamlessly incorporated into the story as well. The only reason this doesn't get a full five stars is that the book drags towards the end, giving far too much space to a couple of love triangles about which I wasn't especially intere ...more
Jane
Apr 21, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
“Adrian affects a bored, languid tone, especially when he’s talking to his elders. But his eyes give him away. They fairly burn with eagerness; and he knows this, he’s ashamed of it and keeps looking down at the carpet to hide them. He says languidly: ‘Of course, one can’t possibly read Meredith nowadays.’ And really, he’s imploring you to contradict him; to make some tremendous, definite statement. To utter the final, wonderful Word about Life and Art.”

In this passage, one of the characters, a
...more
Richard Jespers
Evening, set in the late 1930s and early 1940s, seems to be hung on a simple frame. Part One is entitled “An End.” In it the protagonist, Stephen Monk, catches his second wife, Jane, in a compromising position with another man and leaves her immediately—almost too easily, it seems. Isherwood introduces a number of principle characters, including Stephen’s “Aunt” Sarah, as well as his nurse, Gerda. Part Two is called “Letters and Life.” In this section Stephen recovers from a horrendous accident ...more
Donovan Lessard
Oct 02, 2013 Donovan Lessard rated it it was amazing
It's very strange that you don't hear more about this amazing book. The World in the Evening is a sleeper hit, amongst Isherwood's other, celebrated novels.

Immediately before reading The World in the Evening, I read Goodbye To Berlin and Mr. Norris Changes Trains, Isherwood's famous early novels about his time in Berlin. Juxtaposed to these early novels, The World in the Evening has a maturity, a subtlety, and an emotionality that are not present in Isherwood's earlier novels.

The novel really
...more
Joy
Apr 30, 2016 Joy rated it it was amazing

I thoroughly enjoyed this relatively short novel, which gives the sense of a long span of time in the developing maturity of the main character, Stephen Monk. I was contentedly carried along by the gentle pace of the narration that unfolds in surprising ways. It begins quickly with a climactic episode, then most of the book reflects backward to recount the experiences that brought him to that episode. Much of the reflection is supported by Monk's savored reading of letters written by his decease
...more
Lisa
Feb 25, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
I loved being drawn into the world of Stephen Monk, in the company of good-hearted but troubled people. It is impossible for me to write about the World in the Evening without talking about the way homosexuality is dealt with in the book. There are men who have sex with men, and then there are gay men. The hansom protagonist never admits to being gay despite being attracted to and having affairs with men. Being gay is left for the quirkier minor characters. One of the passages in the book where ...more
Laurel Doud
Mar 11, 2010 Laurel Doud rated it really liked it
I didn't like the first 60 pages at all and I thought, why was this book recommended to me?

Then Elizabeth, who had been standing in the wings, finally stepped out on stage and everything changed. I loved her. I loved her letters. I think this book is one of the best I've read about the writing process. It wasn't heavy-handed or ham-handed (or is that ham-fisted?) or self-conscious. It felt natural and honest and true and I believed every word of it--and not just because I have felt personally t
...more
Marie
Dec 23, 2012 Marie rated it liked it
A beautifully written book that just flows along, thankfully just enough breaks so I don't miss my station. About a man forced to review his Life and decisions and how he has treated the people he loves/d, and mainly about how he has never thought about his actions and reactions Before but actually been rather careless; that he still fails to consciously think about his main relationship (that with his mother figure) and only about his wives. But once started he is sure to get around to that.
Ig
...more
Donna Brau
May 24, 2014 Donna Brau rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought once I got into this book it would be okay, but even to the end of the book, I found passages like this one just not interesting or believable: "It was then, suddenly and for the merest fraction of an instant, that I saw, or thought I saw, what Gerda had seen. There was something about the smiling little woman, at that moment; something that wasn't the Sarah I'd known. That wasn't Sarah at all. The look in her eyes wasn't hers. I had an uncanny feeling-it was very close to fear-that I ...more
Katie Bearor
*I am lucky enough to have received a copy of this novel through Goodreads: First Reads, and did not purchase this book.*
To be honest, this book starts out fairly slow, but after I got past those first fifty pages I was pleasantly surprised. The dialogue and descriptions are very witty and amusing, while the story flows quite beautifully. It was easy to adore the main character, Stephen Monk, and I quite enjoyed the way the author told his tale.
If you're patient enough to get into this story, I
...more
B.L. Aldrich
Nov 21, 2012 B.L. Aldrich rated it liked it
I'm coming close to finishing Isherwood's fiction (I've only two left before I've read all the novels), and I have to say, though this one isn't my favorite, it's been enjoyable for strange reasons. I despised the first half because it seemed so foreign, and as the first in several that didn't feature a cypher of himself as the protagonist, I was confused by Stephen and didn't particularly like him. But once Elizabeth came into the book and I realized the book was a veiled portrait of he and Don ...more
Grace
Jun 28, 2014 Grace rated it really liked it
I am very grateful to have received this book as a Goodreads give away. This is the first Isherwood book I have read. It is a hauntingly beautiful exploration of upperclass life in pre war Europe and America during WW2. An accident leaves Stephen Monk bedridden in a Quaker household in Pennsylvania at the beginning of WW2. During his recuperation, Monk reflects on his life and relationships with women and men. The strength of Isherwood's writing creates multifaceted characters which undermine pr ...more
Karen E. Garcia
Apr 02, 2015 Karen E. Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads contest. Personally I enjoyed the book and was entranced with the way Christopher Isherwood wrote the story. The words were vivid and the thoughts that were lurking in the mind of Stephen Monk was profound. The journey Stephen went through was recalling memories when he found himself in an accident. The story is slow in the sense of growing with the character and may not be for someone who is seeking for action or suspension in the form of excitement ...more
Darren
Sep 27, 2013 Darren rated it liked it
Of the 7 Isherwood novels I've read, this was the least satisfying. I'm sure the author is present in the main character Stephen Monk, but he not the fictionalised author I'm used to from the Berlin novels, The Memorial and Down There on a Visit. The book was at its best when exploring the relationships in flashback, and is most truthful when Monk admits his bisexuality.

Gerda and Sarah are the only two really likeable characters, but all of them are believable. It was a good book, and though les
...more
Bree (AnotherLookBook)
Nov 12, 2013 Bree (AnotherLookBook) rated it it was amazing
A novel about a man in pre-WWII Europe and America who, while bedridden at his Quaker aunt’s house, reflects on his first marriage and the dissolution of his second.

Full review at Another Look Book

Reminded me of:
- Hollywood movies from the ’30s and ’40s
- Virginia Woolf (Orlando)
- Francoise Sagan (Bonjour Tristesse)
Ingrid
May 25, 2014 Ingrid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** Won as part of a goodreads giveaway***

This was my first Isherwood novel. I'm a little torn about it. I really enjoyed reading it, but didn't miss it terribly when I wasn't reading it which is my benchmark find a 4/5-star book. I hated Michael with a passion. What a nut job. I half expected the novel to take a bizarre murderous twist whenever he was around because he seemed that unstable. Pics loved the ending not because everything was tidied up, but I felt I really understood Steven, Jane,
...more
Pasquale
Jan 19, 2010 Pasquale rated it really liked it
This book was amazing, and it barely has a plot. Isherwood's writing style is superb, obviously. He has a way of articulating the thoughts and passions of a character with authenticity and empathy. I think I found a part of myself in each of the characters, or at least their experiences.

My only criticism is how the sexuality of Stephen is portrayed - specifically, his affair with Michael Drummond. They seemed to genuinely love each other, at least for a time. It's almost as if Isherwood has trou
...more
Phyllida
Jun 13, 2013 Phyllida rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt
This is quite a big departure from Isherwood's usual semi-autobiographical format, and I think it makes it far more surprising and engaging as a novel. The characters are beautifully fleshed-out; they feel painfully real. If you were a fan of A Single Man, you will definitely love this book. That said, it does feel rather dated in the way Isherwood tries not to offend the social mores of the 1950's. I found some of the internalised homophobia difficult to stomach, so please tread carefully.
Jamie
Nov 24, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing
"Everyday, life only goes on because of our utter insensivity".

Beautifully written prose right up to the last page. Isherwood's talent remains his ability to plunge us into the depth of human emotion and struggle. A portrait of the past which regrettably no writer today could possibly come close to portaying.
James Weisbach
Feb 18, 2013 James Weisbach rated it really liked it
I adore Isherwood, and this book is one of my favorites of his. It's a book about self-knowledge, and succeeds based off of a combination of compelling characters and gorgeous prose. I also love his handling of queerness in this book - Stephen is cheerfully bisexual and his friend Bob is gay, and though there are some struggles attached to this, it's simply a fact of life.
Lee
Jul 14, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it
Meandering but rich — full of the interpenetration of theatricality and devastating reality, childish pretend and adult ruins: perverse things going on in playhouses, movies too labor-intensive to watch, emotional repression and sublimation.
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Christopher Isherwood was a novelist, playwright, screen-writer, autobiographer, and diarist. He was also homosexual and made this a theme of some of his writing. He was born near Manchester in the north of England in 1904, became a U.S. citizen in 1946, and died at home in Santa Monica, California in January 1986.

Isherwood was the grandson and heir of a country squire, and his boyhood was privile
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