Mandy Jo's Reviews > The Last September

The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
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's review
Jan 18, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: litríocht-na-hÉireann
Read in January, 2012

This week’s headline? "what Lois was"

Why this book? suggestion from Amazon

Which book format? packaged trade paperback

Primary reading environment? "the domestic landscape"

Any preconceived notions? "Can you draw?"

Identify most with? "my wretched virtue"

Three little words? "harnessing their waterfall"

Goes well with? I dunno; tea?

Recommend this to? "common little hell-cat"

It took me forever to read this. It was good, and really beautifully insightful at times. It was just boring.

I can't get worked up over a central conflict based on archaic etiquette where kissing a boy pretty much means you have to marry him. Yawn.

There are a lot of slow, steady, patient looks at coming of age and the intricate relations between all the characters at Danielstown, but it wasn't like I looking forward to cracking this book open every night.

I say this, even though I know I'll probably regret it. I didn't like Pride and Prejudice the first time I read it either (direct quote: "Jane Austen makes me want to puke"), but after seeing the most recent movie and Bridget Jones and Lost in Austen (I haven't even treated myself to the Colin Firth mini-series yet), and essentially having the slow-burn romance acted out in front of me, I've come to love the story and lingered over the book upon a re-read.

Something tells me The Last September is in the same category; that if I just slowed down enough to appreciate it, I would be able to savor every last drop of social commentary on a very critical time in Ireland.

There's a scene at the end of the book, with two British officers' WAGs calling on Danielstown, that sort of spells out the underlying mood I would have noticed from the beginning, had I taken the time to do so. This is essentially a story about an occupation, except the occupied take tea and attend military balls with the occupiers. Most bizarre.

If you look closely, there's action and intrigue and deception and power struggles and all the little events that comprise world history. After all, it is a story about a kiss.

Other cultural accompaniments: According to Amazon, Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, apparently there's a movie.

Grade: B+

I leave you with this: "...she simply is

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