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Friends and Relations (Vintage Classics)

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  84 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Two sisters, two weddings, just months apart. These marriages produce a tangle of friends, relations and lovers that starts to unravel ten years later, during one intense week. Two of Bowen’s most memorable characters are in attendance: Lady Elfrida, a creature of privilege, and Theodora Thirdman, a gawky teenager with zero self-awareness. The sunset of prosperity is upon ...more
Paperback, Vintage Classics, 159 pages
Published June 3rd 1999 by Vintage (first published 1931)
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Mary
Nov 16, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous novella elegantly written.
Nuances of drawing room comedy, the potentially explosive interplay of propriety and passion.
Elizabeth Bowen writes with compassion, the relationship between two very different sisters and their husbands.
Facing up to secrets and the past of shunned society.
I loved it, especially the gorgeous cover of taking afternoon tea!
J.
Mar 10, 2014 J. rated it liked it
"Today proved to be one of those weekdays, vacant, utterly without character, when some moral fort of a lifetime is abandoned calmly, almost idly, without the slightest assault from circumstance. So religions are changed, celibacy relinquished, marriages broken up, or there occurs a first large breach with personal honor ..."
Author Elizabeth Bowen is young (though hardly new), insightful, ambitious and completely in love with what words can do, in this dense little volume. The effort is valian
...more
Ali
Mar 25, 2017 Ali rated it it was amazing
The novel concerns two sisters, two weddings – a few months apart, and the complicated web of friends and relations that unite the families. Ten years after these two weddings, tensions held politely at bay start to unravel over the course of one fraught week. Four families: the Studdarts, Tilneys, Meggatts and Thirdmans are connected by their relationships to the two couples who marry in the early part of the novel.

Laurel and Janet Studdart are the sisters, Laurel marries first, Edward Tilney –
...more
Sweetmongoose
Feb 17, 2014 Sweetmongoose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Elizabeth Bowen’s writing is by turns luminescent, impenetrable, and marvelously precise. I love her insightful observations on small occurrences in the course of a human being’s day. I am fascinated by the structures of her novels – this one starts with 2 weddings (one for each sister) which take place some months apart and then moves in section 2 to 10 years later and the events of one intense week. The final section focuses on 1 day a few weeks later with a final chapter which pulls out for a ...more
Cera
Jan 28, 2009 Cera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know I enjoyed this novel because I kept reading it, eager to find out what would become of Janet and Laurel and Edward and Rodney, not to mention the horrible Theodora. It was very evocative, leaving me with lots of fully realised moments in space -- a walk across a lawn, a sitting room with sun coming in, a dark bedroom at night. Bowen's prose is somewhat experimental (at least to me), with odd turns of phrase, fragmented sentences, peculiar metaphors. It works; I was imaginatively transport ...more
Ellen
Jul 12, 2011 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fabulous read! An interesting story about the relationships between two sisters and their husbands, which demonstrates the difficulties in maintaining open and honest relationships among people who are very different from one another. Written in Bowen's flowing style, the book carries the reader through the rise and fall of emotions stirred in the sisters as things seemingly go awry. I'd recommend this book to any readers who enjoy subtlety and intricacy in their fiction.
Melanie Williams
The writing is insightful, but at times a tad mystifying .... the characters are not very likeable, except perhaps Rodney, who seems pretty affable towards everyone.
Trisha
Dec 28, 2015 Trisha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Bowen writes stylishly elegant novels that require a fair amount of effort on our part to understand what’s going on. I had my work cut out with this one but I’m glad I persevered even though it often meant re-reading previous sections just to be sure I was on the right track. Bowen is a master of innuendo and so what she doesn’t say is just as important as what she does. This means we must be willing to read between the lines, behind the scenes and beneath the surface of what she desc ...more
Sweetmongoose
Jan 02, 2014 Sweetmongoose rated it liked it
Elizabeth Bowen's writing is by turns luminescent, impenetrable, and marvelously precise. I love her insightful observations on small occurrences in the course of a human being's day. I am fascinated by the structures of her novels; this one starts with 2 weddings (one for each sister) which take place some months apart and then moves in section 2 to 10 years later and the events of one intense week. The final section focuses on 1 day a few weeks later with a final chapter which pulls out for a ...more
Eileen
Oct 11, 2008 Eileen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britlit, virago
Mmph. I think that early to midcentury social novels are starting to wear thin on me. This was a well done book, but I didn't find it that interesting.

Analysis: Marry people because you love them, not because you love someone else and they marry your sister and you don't know what to do and so you marry someone else, especially someone else who is related to some dude who once had an affair with your brotherinlaw's mother, who then left and lived in France for years. If you do, and there are is
...more
Deborah J
Mar 31, 2016 Deborah J rated it liked it
I loved, loved loved the first third of this book. Although the novel is set in a very particular social milieu, I found the observations and reflections relevant to today and any social class. I also laughed and smiled a lot. I thought it started to fall apart once an unwarranted seriousness appeared. The characters simply couldn't support the supposed real "passion"; or was that the point??
Kate
Nov 05, 2009 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The prose is elegant but except for Theodora (whom I found engagingly bratty) the character development was oh so bland. More than half-way through, I still had to forcibly remind myself which of the two young men Laurel was married to and which Janet was married to.
I usually love a good "tea-drinking" novel, but this wasn't it. Barbara Pym may be less "literary," but oh so much more enjoyable.
Eve
Apr 12, 2013 Eve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After a five-book tryst with Nancy Mitford I was hoping Elizabeth Bowen would be as much fun to get in bed with. But this book was a bit like a tea sandwich, cold, bland and unsatisfying. There was nary a sentence worth remembering. As a whole, it was unsatisfying as the love affairs it bloodlessly depicted.
Eve
May 22, 2013 Eve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After a five-book tryst with Nancy Mitford I was hoping Elizabeth Bowen would be as much fun to get in bed with. But this book was a bit like a tea sandwich, cold, bland and unsatisfying. There was nary a sentence worth remembering. As a whole, it was unsatisfying as the love affairs it bloodlessly depicted.
Leif
Feb 08, 2014 Leif rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow burn, but much more accomplished than Bowen's earliest work, if not with the dramatic flair possessed by The Last September, her previous novel. Here the consequences of life are traced out through multiply interlocking couples of unhappy lovers and the message seems to be: marry carefully, and when you do, marry well.
Marga Demmers
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Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
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