Melee's Reviews > The Death of the Heart

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
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Jun 20, 11

Read from June 18 to 20, 2011

From the back description, I was expecting this to be a major seduction story like, er, well, I can't think of any examples, though they are a dime a dozen. Anyhow, it wasn't; it was about the seduction of the mind: mental, not physical. It was Portia's mind, of course, that was seduced and inevitably, betrayed. (Is that why this is called a psychological novel?)

I rather liked Portia. She wasn't obnoxiously pathetic as I thought she would be. She wasn't when she was away from Eddie, that is. Parts without him she was a dreamy loner type which I identify with since I am one. But she was extremely guileless, captivated by Eddie whose faults and inconsistencies she was blind to. I don't suppose I can cast the first stone, though; the attractions of girls are mysterious things and there is little I wouldn't do for someone who shows me kindness at a time when I'm feeling sadly at loose ends.
Eddie was indeed a Cad (with a capital 'C', yes.) who was in love with the sound of the words coming out of his mouth. Actually, he was not present in the flesh as often as I assumed he would be. Anna was the antagonist more than anyone.

Elizabeth Bowen told the story somewhat indifferently, I thought. Just in the sense she never tried to make you love (or hate, even) any of her characters. She just told it like it was, so to speak. Though she mostly portrayed her character's pettiness and absurdities, she also showed them during moments of worry, vulnerability, and insecurity. Those moments really resounded with me.
And her prose! She wrote little masterpieces of sentences and paragraphs full of brilliant imagery which made my little writer's heart pitter-pat with admiration and, of course, envy. Though some of her thoughts were dense and required more concentration on my part to grasp their meaning.

I suppose there were greater nuances and themes to this novel that I missed, as I am far from being the most discerning reader, but still I enjoyed this book and that is what matters most, in my opinion. Perhaps I shall read this 30 years from now and see what I get out of it. (Sometimes youth feels like a ball and chain.)
Incidentally, I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I was going to and I cannot think, or express at least, what it was that I liked. I know I really enjoyed Elizabeth Bowen's writing. She deserves all the praise she gets in that respect.

Sorry Sarah, this isn't much of a coherent or compelling review - The Death of the Heart may be doomed to languish on your bedside table a bit longer. ;)
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Sarah I look forward to hearing your thoughts. This one has been sitting on my nightstand for ages. I just can't seem to start it. Maybe your review will give me a nudge!


Melee Well, hopefully I'll have a positive review to boost its position in your reading queue! (But naturally I picked the busiest weekend to try and read this. Didn't think that one through properly...)


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