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The Heat Of The Day

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,344 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
It is wartime London, and the carelessness of people with no future flows through the evening air. Stella discovers that her lover Robert is suspected of selling information to the enemy. Harrison, the British intelligence agent on his trail, wants to bargain, the price for his silence being Stella herself. Caught between two men and unsure who she can trust, the flimsy st ...more
Paperback, 389 pages
Published May 14th 1998 by Vintage Classics (first published 1948)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”Overhead, an enemy plane had been dragging, drumming slowly round in the pool of night, drawing up bursts of gunfire--nosing, pausing, turning, fascinated to the point for its intent. The barrage banged, coughed, retched; in here the lights in the mirrors rocked. Now down a shaft of anticipating silence the bomb swung whistling. With the shock of detonation, still to be heard, four walls of in here yawped in then bellied out; bottles danced on glass; a distortion ran through the view. The deton ...more
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-two, london
"Out of mists of morning charred by the smoke from ruins each day rose to a height of unmisty glitter; between the last of sunset and first note of the siren the darkening glassy tenseness of evening was drawn fine. From the moment of waking you tasted the sweet autumn not less because of an acridity on the tongue and nostrils; and as the singed dust settled and smoke diluted you felt more and more called upon to observe the daytime as a pure and curious holiday from fear."

Ostensibly The Heat of
Sep 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bowen plunges us into the midst of intrigue, suspicion, awkward and uncomfortable relationships and conversations, furtiveness, as she reveals London in 1942, people dislocated by the war, mystery abounding, suggestions of espionage and the tensions of unwelcome demands and divided loyalties. Her descriptions of place and ambiance are acute, and her psychological insights and portrayals are subtle, emotions washing across personalities like ripples over water, nuanced and fascinating.

By the end
Roger Brunyate
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-reviews, ww2, women

I first read and reviewed Elizabeth Bowen's novel of the Second World War in 2007, and did not especially like it. A few days ago, however, I finished The Love-charm of Bombs, Lara Feigel's study of five novelists in the London Blitz, and was struck by how all her best quotations seemed to come from Bowen. Looking back at the novel now, I see that Feigel might as well not have bothered writing her book; the first eight pages of Bowen's fifth chapter says more about war, death, and love t
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had the potential to be a 4 star read for me, yet I found the writing SO laborious and detailed, that I was wavering between 2 and 3 stars. To be totally honest, 2 stars won out.

That said, the premise of the story is wonderful on many layers. We have love, loss, intense wartime drama set in London in the 1940's, mystery, intrigue, espionage, and about a dozen very interesting and different characters. The beginning pages grabbed me immediately as the author wrote of an outdoor concert
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
I haven't read that book which says in its very title that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. From somewhere, however, I had learned its basic premise: that the differences between men and women are so vast that it would seem that they are creatures from different planets.

I am a married man and it is not infrequent that my wife would, say, raise a howl of violent exasperation about something I did which I find completely normal and ordinary. On the other hand, I never cease to wonder ho
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exhausting psychological thriller. I think I still love Elizabeth Bowen; I did love the descriptions in this book, again, but I wish I had liked Stella a little bit more? Scenes with Ernestine and Muttikins hilariously sad. Think I need a break after 3 Bowens more or less in a row, but I'll go back.
I haven't read anything by Bowen before, and I picked this up for two reasons. The first is that I read some criticism by A.S. Byattabout it, and the second, someone put it in the free book pile at work. (I love those piles).

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I can see why Byatt enjoyed it. Bowen is very similar to Byatt and Iris Murdoch in style. Her prose is deep; you have to penetrate it. You need scuba gear in away. This makes the prose rewarding.

But the book is also maddening because
This is my second Elizabeth Bowen, and I really find myself liking her books very much.

In this one, the thing I found most striking and successful was the way certain minor characters were portrayed. You find you know quite a lot about them, especially their faults and oddities, not through direct descritpion, but through their own words, and even this very quickly and economically. I'm thinking of Louie's friend Connie, of cousin Nettie, and particularly Richard's mother and sister. There is on
May 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Wartime London, hints of espionage and with lots of references to spirits and ghosts, albeit most often in a metaphorical sense. Buildings are also very significant: Stella's flat (which she changes when her life changes), Wistaria Lodge (odd care home), Mount Morris (Irish inheritance), Holme Dene (Robert's family home - to sell or not). Quite episodic: some chapters and characters quite separate from the main narrative, but Bowen's wonderful use of language shines though.
I found this a difficult but engrossing book. I read in snatched dribs and drabs throughout the day, and it was so hard to dip into and then out of the book that I ended up reading it only at night, when I could sink deeply into it. The story of a love affair in London during World War II, Bowen's narrative is full of slow, contemplative passages rich with sensuous, vivid detail about the world about us, touching on all the senses, like this passage from the first chapter:

"In this state, drugged
Justin Evans
Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of the best books I've read this year, hands down. It's beautifully structured, and gorgeously written- not an easy read by any means, but not quite a Jamesian labyrinth either. I can't really describe it, but the book is wise, and every other good adjective you can think of. "There was nobody to admire: there *was* no alternative. No unextinguished watch-light remained, after all, burning in any window, however far away. In hopes of what, then, was one led on, led on? How long, looking back ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
A difficult novel in scope and style, but infinitely intelligent: part spy novel, part thriller, part failed romance -- although primarily a noir. The opening chapters are appropriately uncomfortable and stifling, as agent Harrison makes clear to Stella that her partner Robert has been involved in double dealings with the enemy, and that therefore all that remains is for them to work out a solution. From there, the novel expands to include flashbacks, other subplots and an expansive family conte ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first Elizabeth Bowen I have read for many many years. I have a memory of having read ‘The Death of the Heart’ and recently decided I may have read A House in Paris – as I realised after seeing another review that the novel sounded very familiar to me. However I have no actual memory of actually reading either book.
I wasn’t sure how I would get along with this book as I know some people consider Elizabeth Bowen to be hard work. I certainly don’t think she is easy – and this book was
Nov 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modernist-novel
Like most of the reviewers here, I found the book densely written and perplexing. The characters are as complex and believable as any in literature. We don't know enough about them to fully grasp their motivations, even after they try to explain themselves through dialogue with another character. Neither the reader nor the other character in such a scene will get it, though.

My favorite characters, Stella and Robert, play at the edges of each other and exist in superficial relationship, perfect f
Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a brittle, opaque story of a strange kind of `love triangle' set in the dark glamour of war-time London. The (melo)dramatic plot is contained and constrained within a quiet, very restrained sense of telling so that the narrative seems to be in tension with itself.

There is a muted intensity to all personal interactions, and this is the kind of book where we need to pay attention to every word spoken, to every tiny gesture made, to almost decode the currents between people.

If you come to t
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written with tremendous grace this densely atmospheric mystery novel quietly shows the hard to articulate human motivations for betrayal, both big and slight, among those in love. The narrative is propelled emotionally, and the characters, largely stoic, deal with each other in ways which give an understanding to their immediate, but historical, situation - that of London during World War 2, in the year of so before the Blitz when the fear of bombing and land invasion were terrible. There are so ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-lit
A little strange to grasp in the beginning due to Bowen's writing style (double negatives all over) but once you're in you're in. Had to speed read the last few chapters for the week (we were given two weeks to read it for class but essays and editing took over my life) but I loved it. I had started the book back in November, but I gave up as I had to read a lot of other titles for lectures.

It's a brilliant story that makes you question war, politics and relationships. It also makes you questio
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a book very much of it's time and as such I found the language dense and at times difficult to penetrate. Bowen painted a picture of a tense, war time London where everyone mistrusted everyone else. The conversations were fractured and oblique and I found the characters difficult to invest emotionally in. Some of her descriptive prose at times was quite beautiful and touching but at other times I struggled to understand what was happening and if anything was true. It has left me with lot ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I have personally triumphed over this book. Oh Bowen, when you are good, you are so very good, but when you are bad, you are awful.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my third Elizabeth Bowen venture and I quite enjoyed it. You can read my review of this one here:
Adapted by Tristram Powell and Honor Borwick.

Elizabeth Bowen's wartime novel of betrayal adapted from a screenplay by Harold Pinter. Part love story, part spy thriller, in which the beautiful Stella's allegiances are tested.

(view spoiler)
Alex Sarll
A story of love and treason in wartime London, which as such might be expected to recall Greeneland - but in its minute attention to sordid detail, mingled with an equal fascination for the play of consciousness, to me it felt more like the midpoint between Patrick Hamilton and Virginia Woolf. There are even lambent passages singing the hint of something transcendent, usually found in the natural world, which gave me glimmers of Arthur Machen (though I suspect he would have hated Bowen, much as ...more
Rachel Hirstwood
I have been really looking forward to reading this, it's been on my amazon wish list for 6 months, and finally, I have got around to it. I think it was a review by AS Byatt that got my interest peaked, and that should have been a clue. Although I like Byatt's novels, they can be a bit dense, and so did this novel prove. I'm sure the grammar was perfect, but it made heavy weather of some of the sentences, so that I found myself having to re-read whole pages because I'd lost the plot.

Buried deep i
Nov 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very unusual and original story of London during the war, written by the incomparable Bowen. Her detailed prose and her highly polished style work wonders with this suffocating tale that perfectly captures the atmosphere of the British city during the Blitz. It's also a spy story reduced to its core: human beings trapped by their contradictory passions. All the ingredients are there (danger, lust, betrayal, suspicion, love) yet Bowen uses them in a personal way, accenting mostly the psychologi ...more
Sep 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
London in the blitz, with fascinating characters and a juicy plot ... I wasn't sure that Bowen really made the best of it with her delicate hints and allusions. Couldn't we have had 900 pages of the reader enthralled and not having to work quite so hard?

"She had supposed for some time that adolescence might make him more difficult but less odd"

"He dared not decide whether her eyes, with their misted askance look, were those of the victim or of the femme fatale"

"but a Mobile Woman dared not look
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
One of the most atmospheric novels I have read, conveying the claustrophobic terror of living in wartime London. Stella and Robert are having an affair, but Robert is accused of selling secrets to the Nazis. The price for his freedom is for Stella to give herself to his accuser. Alongside this central moral conundrum, we are invited to think of other issues of morality: Louie, a lonely Kentish lass who picks up strangers for company while her husband is serving overseas, and Stella's son Roderic ...more
This was a book that was very hard to get into in the beginning. Bowen's language is very flowery and she takes a long time to say anything and she has endless descriptions. After getting used to her writing, I did, however, find the characters interesting and the plot was fascinating. There is a real sense of feeling what it was like in London as the bombs were dropped on the city. I actually look forward to reading another of her novels and I would recommend this book to those who are interest ...more
Carey Combe
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unexpectedly good, great story, great characterisation and moving.
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Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
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“She had one of those charming faces which, according to the angle from which you see them, look either melancholy or impertinent. Her eyes were grey; her trick of narrowing them made her seem to reflect, the greater part of the time, in the dusk of her second thoughts. With that mood, that touch of arriere pensee, went an uncertain, speaking set of lips.” 7 likes
“Habit, of which passion must be wary, may all the same be the sweetest part of love.” 5 likes
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