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At Mrs Lippincote's

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  587 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Mrs Lippincote's house, with its mahogany furniture and yellowing photographs, stands as a reminder of all the certainties that have vanished with the advent of war. Temporarily, this is home for Julia, who has joined her husband Roddy at the behest of the RAF. Although she can accept the pomposities of service life, Julia's honesty and sense of humor prevent her from taki ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published April 6th 2006 by Virago (first published July 31st 1945)
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3.88  · 
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Paul
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elizabeth-taylor
This is Taylor’s first novel, published in 1945 and is a closely observed portrait of family life during the war, although the war is very much in the background. Roddy Davenant, his wife Julia and young son Oliver and Roddy’s cousin Eleanor move from London s Roddy has been posted away from London (he is in the RAF). They rent a house from a widow called Mrs Lippincote (hence the title). It still contains all her furniture and many personal possessions. The novel charts their life in the house. ...more
Hugh
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was Elizabeth Taylor's first novel, and it is a very accomplished and enjoyable debut. This was my third Taylor novel after Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont and A Wreath of Roses, and I look forward to reading more.

Set during the Second World War, it centres on Julia, the wife of RAF officer Roddy. They are lodged in the house of the widow Mrs Lippincote in an unnamed provincial town. They share the house with their 7 year old son Oliver and Roddy's spinster cousin Eleanor.

Julia is frustrated
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Idarah
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017, classics
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"'Lucky for us Emily [Bronte] was not a man,' said Julia, 'or she might have drank herself to death at the Black Bull. It was better to write Wuthering Heights, but she really had no choice. Men are not forced to turn their desolation to advantage as women are. It's easier for them to despise their passion, quell their restlessness in other ways. The Bronte girls just couldn't slip down to the pub. So they had to take to writing.'"

After reading The End on the last page of this little gem, I'm
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Margaret
I've had mixed success with Taylor before: I liked The Blush, a volume of short stories, and was less enthralled by In a Summer Season. I wasn't sure whether I would like this, Taylor's first novel, in which a military family comes to live in a rented house during World War II.

Married to a proper officer, Julia Davenant tries to behave as a proper officer's wife ought, yet she has a basic directness and disregard for social convention which trip her up. She forms a friendship with Roddy's comman
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Teresa
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning I expected this book to be like Pym's Jane and Prudence, as both take place in English villages in basically the same time period; and employ two female characters who are very different from each other: one an 'unsatisfactory' wife, according to the standards of the time; the other a spinster. Each work also references famous British literature; here, it is that of the Brontes.

But despite these surface similarities, there is something very different in their tones that makes th
...more
Sarah
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
New tenants arrive at Mrs Lippincote's home. Julia, Roddy and their young son Oliver breathe fresh life into rooms cluttered with past memories. Roddy is conscientious and with a recent RAF posting he is anxious to impress. Julia struggles with the restrictions placed upon her life and she becomes gently antagonistic and rebellious.

Elizabeth Taylor manages to convey the very soul of a person with a deft, sensitive flair. Her writing illuminates so much in its thoughtful simplicity.

Oliver imagine
...more
Canadian
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Rating: 2.5

“Society necessarily has a great many little rules, especially relating to the behaviour of women. One accepted them and life ran smoothly and without embarrassment, or as far as that is possible where there are two sexes. Without the little rules, everything became queer and unsafe.”

It is unclear precisely where and when Taylor’s first novel is set, but the reader knows it is somewhere in England and just before the end of World War II, as Roddy, the military-officer husband of 30-is
...more
Proustitute
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Proustitute by: JacquiWine
To enter into Elizabeth Taylor’s world is always unsettling: I’ve written a bit about some of her work—especially A View of the Harbour —after reading some of the “bigger hits” of her writing career. However, as I’m making my way through some of the other novels of hers that I haven’t yet gotten to, I’m continually astonished at her unique vision of England, of marriage, and of (especially female) subjectivity.

Taylor’s vision is comedic but also bleak and often dark; here, in her first novel, s
...more
Karen
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Betty Coles became Elizabeth Taylor upon her marriage in 1936 when she was 23.
After writing for well over 15 years, 'At Mrs Lippincote's' was published in 1945 ( Elizabeth aged 32) .In the same year , the actress Elizabeth Taylor was appearing in 'National Velvet' and began her ascent to stardom.Meanwhile, over the next 30 years, ' the other Elizabeth Taylor' lived and worked in Buckinghamshire and published eleven more novels and four volumes of short stories.
'At Mrs Lippincote's' set in WW2, t
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Kim Kaso
This book reminded me of my time living in a village in England with my children while my husband served in the Navy. I remember living among other people’s furniture & possessions, trying to keep them intact with small children. I remember taking the kids to school, teaching my daughter to tie a double Windsor knot in her school tie, finding places to shop, attending social events with my husband’s fellow officers, going to social events with other wives. The writing is splendid, the observ ...more
Tania
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middlebrow, virago
Read for the Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project. Reading the books in chronological order, this is her first novel, written in 1945.

Roddy is in the RAF, he moves his family, consisting of his wife Julia, his son Oliver and his cousin Eleanor (recovering from a nervous breakdown), down from London to be near his base. They rent a house from Mrs Lippincote, who goes to live in a boarding house. Julia seems unsettled to be living in amongst another persons things and rather discontented with her lif
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Elizabeth (Alaska)
The story takes place during WWII, but in the country and no bombing is taking place, as opposed to being in London from which they had moved. Roddy Davenant is in the RAF. The family has taken over a house belonging to Mrs. Lippincote, who has moved into a residential hotel for the duration.

There is lots to like about this book. I have said before that I don't have to like the characters to like a book, which is fortunate because I didn't especially care for any of the characters. Julia doesn't
...more
Sonya
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2018, 2018
This is the first book I've read by E. Taylor and wow. I thought it was going to be some kind of funny wry marriage comedy like "Barefoot in the Park" or the like, but it turns out to be a deft and precise study of a melancholy and restless woman named Julia, who has an extremely precocious son (I read adult books early, but not "Jane Eyre" at age seven!). They live with Roddy, her husband and the father of Oliver, and Roddy's cousin, Eleanor, in the home of Mrs. Lippincote, a widow who has been ...more
Davide
Elizabeth Taylor is a writer loved by writers (from Kinglsey Amis to Hilary Mantel), and books have a very important role in all three of her books that I read so far (I intend to go on!).

In this case, the Brontë sisters are especially important: a number of their novels are quoted, commented and have a role in the story: : Jane Eyre, Villette, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Wuthering Heights...; we find even a personal version of “the mad woman in the attic”.

It is not an exaggerated love for quot
...more
Hilary
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, my favourite Elizabeth Taylor so far. The characters were excellent, I really liked the main character Julia and identified with her need for an escape in literature and daydream from the mundane daily life of being a wife and mother. Beautiful observations of children and life during the war.
Dan
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some debut novels and novellas seem to spring forth fully formed in their brilliance, such as Jean Rhys’s Quartet and Anita Brookner’s A Start in Life. Other first novels provide only glimpses of their authors’ forthcoming brilliance. Elizabeth Taylor’s At Mrs. Lippincote’s falls into the latter category: while it provides the reader with many rewards, reaching those rewards may try the impatient reader.

At Mrs. Lippincote’s portrays an hermetic household, with stodgy husband Roddy Davenant, was
...more
Susan
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Imagine discovering Anne Tyler for the first time. That's how I felt reading this 1945 novel by Elizabeth Taylor, the novelist. The writing is intoxicatingly good, the characters humanly flawed and unexpectedly funny and sad.

***********
Julia came in with the pound of burnt sausages lying on the smallest dish.
"You can't expect mustard on the first night," she warned Roddy, who thought what a very few seconds it would have taken to mix.

Oliver Davenant did not merely read books. He snuffed them u
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Set at the end of WWII somewhere in England, this debut novel looks at domestic life and the expectations on the women with respect to family and the home. Julia is a bored housewife who can’t seem to live up to her duties of mother and wife and wishes for more independence. In contrast, Eleanor, her husband’s cousin, longs for what Julia has. The novel deals with the tedium of everyday life and not much happens, making it a bit slow for me.
Mela
"To myself, I seem like a little point of darkness with the rest of the world swirling in glittering circles round me."

This is a perfect example of why I love Mrs Taylor's novels. Her books are a mixture of a simple story about ordinary people with a deep wisdom of an observant eye.

Here we had a marriage between two people who couldn't create a relationship that would have satisfied them both.

But Roddy wanted love only where there was homage as well, and admiration. He did not want merely to b
...more
Sara
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Taylor’s crushing tale of a disintegrating marriage in 1940’s England. Julia Davenant has just joined her husband, Roddy, at his RAF posting in the countryside outside London. With Roddy, his cousin Eleanor, and her son, Oliver, Julia has been installed in the rental home of Mrs. Lippincote. Julia is as uncomfortable in her life as she is in the house that is not her home.

It is the state of marriage that Taylor is truly exploring, the confining nature, the double standard.
Per Roddy:

S
...more
Mary
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I've discovered Elizabeth Taylor's wonderful books.
This was a charming book set in WW2.
RAF Roddy, his wife Julia, son Oliver and cousin Eleanor come to stay in Mrs Lippincotes house.
Beautifully written with charm and wit.
She has an eye for detail and people's relationships.
An excellent read.
Pamela
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Julia, her husband Roddy, son Oliver and Roddy's cousin Eleanor move temporarily into Mrs Lippincote's house while the owner is staying in a hotel during WWII. Roddy is in the RAF and his CO, the Wing Commander, has arranged for Julia to join him, and is taking an interest in the family's arrangements. His daughter Felicity is introduced as a friend for Oliver. Julia is honest and forthright, unwilling to accept the constraints of married life where they conflict with her need to be honest, and ...more
Michael
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group-read
My first time reading Elizabeth Taylor. I really enjoyed these quirky, flawed but interesting characters coping with dislocation and anxiety on the home front in England during the war years. The writing was superb and seemed to capture and convey the essence of these complex characters. Thanks to Karen and the Goodreads Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project for bringing this book and author to my attention.
Catie


Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project - August 2018

Favorite Quotes: “The exquisite relief of Sunday morning was like slipping into a deep hot bath.” (pg. 170)
Jessica
Aug 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Already want to reread this. Likely to be a 4 star on a second read. Just wasn’t in the right headspace it seems!
Rosemary
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Taylor's first novel focuses on the emotional disconnect in a marriage in wartime England. Julia and her husband Roddy, an RAF officer, are renting a house near the base where he is stationed, a house belonging to the elderly Mrs. Lippincote, who has moved out. None of the characters are very likeable, but it's an interesting portrait of apparently privileged but unhappy and unfulfilled lives.
Barbara
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am basically a fan of everything Elizabeth Taylor wrote, short stories, everything . I think the woman was an amazing prose stylist . She has the ability to create characters, of whom, like them or not, you avidly want to know what they will do next , or how they will manage the situation in hand .

Julia is the chief character of this novel, come to live with her wartime officer husband ( not, my dears to be confused with Regular Army , heavens no, though Roddy is a gentlemen, ) Also sharing t
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JacquiWine
Jul 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
First published in 1945, At Mrs Lippincote’s was Elizabeth Taylor’s debut novel. This is my third Taylor (after Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and A Game of Hide and Seek), and if anything it has left me even more eager to read the rest of her books.

As the novel opens the Davenant family are moving into their new home, a house near the RAF base where Flight Lieutenant Roddy Davenant is currently stationed. (The setting is a small town somewhere in the South of England during WW2.) Roddy has been p
...more
Karen Mace
My first Elizabeth Taylor read, for the 'Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project', and a surprising hit for me! I really wasn't expecting the fresh feel of the writing and for it being so witty! I thought it was going to be of the time but the simplicity of the story made it feel so relevant for any time!

It's the story of a family moving into a house - not theirs - and the chaos that surrounds them as they settle into their new life, and the new people they meet. The owner of the house, Mrs Lippincote,
...more
Suzie Grogan
Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, lovely, lovely. Clever, witty and ultimately unsettling. Set in the Second World War and tracing the lives of one family working with yet another new RAF posting, it is all about relationships, hypocrisy and the pressures on women to conform. But you would barely know it, so subtle is Elizabeth Taylor.

Do read her work if she is new to you. It is the small things that absorb her and in them she reveals some very significant truths.
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Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles) was a popular English novelist and short story writer. Elizabeth Coles was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1912. She was educated at The Abbey School, Reading, and worked as a governess, as a tutor and as a librarian.

In 1936, she married John William Kendall Taylor, a businessman. She lived in Penn, Buckinghamshire, for almost all her married life.

Her first novel, At Mrs
...more
“OLIVER DAVENANT did not merely read books. He snuffed them up, took breaths of them into his lungs, filled his eyes with the sight of the print and his head with the sound of words. Some emanation from the book itself poured into his bones, as if he were absorbing steady sunshine. The pages had personality. He was of the kind who cannot have a horrifying book in the room at night. He would, in fine weather, lay it upon an outside sill and close the window. Often Julia would see a book lying on his doormat.

As well as this, his reading led him in and out of love. At first, it was the picture of Alice going up on tiptoe to shake hands with Humpty Dumpty; then the little Fatima in his Arthur Rackham book, her sweet dusky face, the coins hanging on her brow, the billowing trousers and embroidered coat. Her childish face was alive with excitement as she put the key to the lock. “Don’t!” he had once cried to her in loud agony.

In London, he would go every Saturday morning to the Public Library to look at a picture of Lorna Doone. Some Saturdays it was not there, and he would go home again, wondering who had borrowed her, in what kind of house she found herself that week-end. On his last Saturday, he went to say good-bye and the book was not there, so he sat down at a table to await its return. Just before the library was to be shut for lunch-time, he went to the shelf and kissed the two books which would lie on either side of his Lorna when she was returned and, having left this message of farewell, made his way home, late for lunch and empty of heart.

If this passion is to be called reading, then the matrons with their circulating libraries and the clergymen with their detective tales are merely flirting and passing time. To discover how Oliver’s life was lived, it was necessary, as in reading The Waste Land, to have an extensive knowledge of literature. With impartiality, he studied comic papers and encyclopaedia, Eleanor’s pamphlets on whatever interested her at the moment, the labels on breakfast cereals and cod liver oil, Conan Doyle and Charlotte Brontë.”
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“but until that time we must accept the possibility that this consummate artist was a very nice woman who lived in a small town, surrounded by a happy family.” 0 likes
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