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The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot by Angus Wilson
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Oct 11, 2010

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Wilson, Angus. THE MIDDLE AGE OF MRS. ELIOT. ***. Sir Angus Wilson (knighted for his contribution to English literature) taught most of his life, and was last professor of English Literature at East Anglia University. He was relatively prolific and wrote many novels and collections of short stories. He also wrote a respected biography/criticsm of Rudyard Kipling. This novel is not reader-friendly, although well written. We learn all about Meg Eliot, a clever woman married to a successful barrister. Money is not an issue, although you learn early on that her husband, Bill, has a powerful gambling habit. She manages to pass her time on various charitable committees and collecting books and porcelain. She and Bill live in Westminster and manage to give the odd party or so for their friends – all of whom are carefully selected. Meg and Bill are preparing for a round-the-world trip. It is occassioned by the need for Bill to travel to Asia/Pacific to take care of legal details on a deal for one of his clients. The trip is planned for six months duration. While in one of the countries, Bill is accidentally killed by an assassin’s bullet – intended for another. Suddenly, everything changes for Meg. She soon discovers that Bill, who made good money on a steady basis, has left her nothing but his collection of gambling debts, and she is thrown into a world of genteel poverty. Her attempts to understand and rebuild her life – to create a realistic, livable world for herself – are movingly brought to life by the author. It’s a good story, well told, but in a style that is likely out of fashion for today.
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