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The Beautiful Visit

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  197 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews

On the eve of an unusual voyage, a young woman reviews her life. Her story begins with a 'beautiful visit' to friends in the country which serves as an awakening experience. What follows is an account of her struggle to retain the mood of her visit.

Paperback, 365 pages
Published July 2nd 1993 by Pan (first published 1950)
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As I started this novel I was thinking of awarding it just two stars, which changed to three and finally here are four. The strength is the overwhelming acuteness and vividness of observation. There is no hesitation or distraction here. Everything strikes the reader as being "entirely as it must have been". All writing is biographical to a greater or lesser extent, this very much to a greater extent, but the force of the narrative does not let up as so many biographical accounts may be expected ...more
Beth Bonini
In Artemis Cooper's recently published (2016) biography of Elizabeth Jane Howard, she says The Beautiful Visit "grew out of the unhappiness of Jane's first marriage, and it asks the questions that were preoccupying her then. How do women find a place in the world if they are brought up unprepared and uneducated for anything but marriage? Does coupledom really bring fulfilment? Is it possible to find an identity outside it?"

The book is very much a coming-of-age story about a young girl - never na
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always like Ms. Howard's style of writing.
This book was no exception.
A very lonely girl who grew up so protected that she has no clue about real life.
An unexpected visit to the country house of distant friends is an eye opener for her.
Unfortunately she was only asked to join to make up numbers and she did not know anybody there.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So after enjoying the Cazalets so much I decided to read a few other EJH novels. This is her first, and has some first novel traits. She's already developed that talent for detailed description and atmosphere, taking you right into the room with her characters. And she already loves writing affectionately about children. It's an odd kind of mixture though. The first section reminded me very much of Rosalind Lehmann's Invitation to the Waltz as our naive unnamed heroine makes her first visit to a ...more
Feb 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I was disappointed with this book. I just got a bit fed up with the main character I think. And I've completely forgotten her name, so clearly she made a huge impression on me!

I loved Howard's books about the Cazelets - she writes so beautifully and with such fluidity - but I just didn't care much about this person. Or any of the other's for that matter. The main character reminded me a little of Bella in Twilight actually. Which I realise is a scandalous comparison! It was just the way she obs
Jan 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2014
She died recently; I read her Cazalet Chronicles a few years ago and loved them, and didn't realize till I read the obits that there's a new book in the series. I'd had this one, unread, so it appealed. It's her first book, a memoir by a young girl in the years before and after World War I. I liked it a lot; she's good at describing thought processes and feelings. Framing the story is a visit she makes to some happy and glamorous cousins, which makes her question her own life and seek more, and ...more
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
An intricately observed story about a young girl coming of age during the First World War. I liked the heroine; she is serious, intelligent and hungry for more than her sheltered upbringing has thus far offered her. Having received no formal education and been raised with no greater aim in life than to marry suitably, she struggles to find an outlet for her ambitions. Howard's writing is suffused with a gentle humour and full of wry observations that Austen would have been proud of. " It is simp ...more
Mar 17, 2010 rated it liked it
it's lovely to read the first book of a writer who grows up to be so great. all the greatness is hidden in among the kinds of ridiculous ploys a crummy writer (like, say, me) would use. you just want to rumple the author's cute little head.
Jane Gregg
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing that this is the first novel of a young woman who had received really very little education. It goes deeply into the making of the human mind, and examines its small, quiet, desperate corners.
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I really didn't know what to make of this. I usually love novels about the early development of a woman writer, but although I kept reading this one and didn't get bored, I just found the main character to be pretty tedious
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some wonderful descriptions. Rather old fashioned and charming. I liked.
Kathryn E Hagen
Unusual. I thought the ending was odd. I read the book because I'd read that Howard was Hilary Mantel's favorite author. I'm reading another of Howard's books now.
Apr 14, 2016 added it
Brilliant. Hard to believe it's a first novel. So happy to have found EJH.
Jul 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
What can I say about Elizabeth Jane Howard. She's a great writer.
Kellie Marnoch
This is very much a first book - though a first book by a truly great author.
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Elizabeth Jane Howard, CBE, was an English novelist. She was an actress and a model before becoming a novelist. In 1951, she won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for her first novel, The Beautiful Visit. Six further novels followed, before she embarked on her best known work, a four novel family saga (i.e., The Cazalet Chronicles) set in wartime Britain. The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and ...more
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“Sit down and tell me everything, child. Hurt feelings and hopeless despair are no match for tea and biscuits.” 7 likes
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