Colleen's Reviews > The Death of the Heart

The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen
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Jun 05, 2009

it was ok
Read in May, 2006

I had a difficult time getting started with this downer of a book because Bowen's writing style is dense and, at times, confusing. From time to time she would lapse into sermons or analysis and my eyes would glaze over and I'd lose my focus. But eventually I got into the story and decided it was OK. There's not much of a plot and there's certainly little action or excitement. It's mainly a psychological story. There are lots of characters playing head games with each other. They're primarily wealthy, lacking a moral compass and worthwhile activities to spend their time on. And then there's Portia...poor Portia... so innocent, so naive, and so trusting. And, God help her, she's inadvertently gotten on the wrong side of her guardian, Anna. Anna is the most self-centered and manipulative woman. She thinks Portia is "on to her" so she's going to underhandedly make her suffer. Actually, I don't think Portia is "on to her" at all; I think she's too naive. But Anna doesn't like herself and she sees in Portia all that she could have been. She's in a loveless marriage, she's materialistic, she sleeps around, and she's nice to people to their faces, then bashes them when they aren't around. Poor Portia is just trying to figure out her place in the world and Anna makes her her target. And she's certainly jealous of Portia's relationship with her "boy toy," Eddie. She makes them both pay. You would hope that an evil woman like Anna would get comeuppance in the end but it's unclear to me what happens. Instead Portia pays with heartbreak and uncertainty about her future. Not a very satisfying ending.
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Jackie great review


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