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The Evening of the Holiday

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In the words of Time magazine, "A near perfect novel...a small masterpiece" by the author of The Great Fire

Passionate undercurrents sweep in and out of this eloquent novel about a love affair in a summer countryside in Italy and its inevitable end. It takes place in a setting of pastoral beauty during a time of celebration--a festival.

Sophie, half English, half Italian, me
Paperback, 138 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by St. Martins Press-3PL (first published 1966)
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3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  214 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
When you finish this book, pay no mind to the thought that the female main character's decision seems almost willful, without much to back it up. That aspect is not important to this short novel that gets stronger as it goes.

I'm always impressed when a novelist conveys characters' thought processes so well, but I'm even more impressed with Hazzard who can convey the thoughts of multiple characters by showing one's thoughts about another and then with one deft phrase, sometimes at the end of the
Violet wells
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
The first ninety pages or so kept making me think that this was the kind of novel Elizabeth Bowen or Rosamond Lehman might have written when they were thirteen or fourteen. Too much sensibility and too little sense. And very dated, considering it was written in 1966. Towards the end it did finally acquire a sense of purpose and some architectural finesse but all in all i found it flimsy and disappointing. The Great Fire, however, I liked a lot.
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit
Discovering a book or an author is one of the treats more likely to happen to you in foreign climes: you take your chances, pick something up that one wouldn't if inundated with a choice.

The plain fact is I'm not sure about this book. I don't understand the characters at all, especially the girl. And yet it was still an engaging - moving - read, this against a backdrop of Italy described as only a person who had a most intimate acquaintance with it could provide.

Maybe my uncertainty is the sig
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
This is almost a long short story, a novella, I guess, and it is slighter and more narrowly focused the other Hazzard novels I've read, even The Bay of Noon, which in some ways is a twin to this book. Nonetheless, Hazzard's craftsmanship is extraordinary, as always. Also, the book is as much a love letter to the Tuscan countryside as anything else (the real Tuscan countryside, inhabited by actual people, if of a generation ago - not the sticky-sweet droll comic confection of latter-day best-sell ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
"The blue-tiled floor had been trodden into slight undulations, the shutters were the colour of red earth, and the furnishings were few and massive"... Shirley Hazzard's beautiful way with words took me to Italy in the summertime. As I read of Tancredi and Sophie's love affair I forgot it was winter and that I am in Melbourne.

"He thought, as he watched her, that in all his life he had never seen a more seductive thing than the unconsidered gesture with which she folded back her sleeve. He saw th
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a short, evocative novella about a summer romance in Italy after World War 2. I love Hazzard's writing--details of the landscape and the people, both the old nobility and the peasants, are interestingly portrayed. We know from the outset the love affair is doomed, but the way it proceeds, and the couple's driving around the Tuscan countryside, are lovely. Very quick but satisfying read.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Every now and then I read a novel that, halfway through, I realize is simply not designed for me, and The Evening of the Holiday, alas, was one of them. It's a short piece but I found it exceptionally hard going.

In an unnamed Italian town, rich Tancredi, estranged from his wife, falls in love with the visiting half-English, half-Italian Sophie, and in due course, rather reluctantly, she returns that love. They have an affair that we're told is rather passionate, even though there's no real evide
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I almost gave this short novel three stars--saying to myself that I don't generally read this type book, how can I say "I really liked it." But, I did. I don't recall reading another romance novel, one about Italy, or seeing a movie about Tuscany or wherever. But this brief love affair--and a May-December one at that--is so beautifully written about in a few pages, that I wished I was reclined on the veranda chaise with a cool, crisp glass of wine within reach along with perhaps some cheese and ...more
Tom Meade
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
This is a lovely little book, scarcely more than a novella, that tells the story of a young woman who meets a controlling and self-important idle riche on a holiday in Italy and proceeds to fall in love with him against her better judgment.

Like Hazzard's other novels it takes as its starting point the stuff of dime novel romance, but as everyone knows the tale is in the telling. Unlike her later novels, which are largely concerned with men, here Hazzard allows access to both the male and female
Melanie Vidrine
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, literary book. I read many paragraphs several times because of the beauty of the writing.
Deborah Biancotti
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: writer-women, aww2013, oz
One of Hazzard's torturous, gothic romances with setting & tragedy leaving large marks across the text. It's a slight, sad book about a holiday romance. A perfect read for a holiday afternoon.

I admit I wanted more of a sense of place (it's set in Italy) & I spent several pages thinking its old-fashionedness implied it was set in the nineteenth century (it isn't).

But Hazzard's prose is so bittersweet & beautiful I forgive her most everything. This is what 'literary' writers are most
Rosaleen Lynch
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Having spent time in Italy, for me Hazzard conjures up sunny memories of that time. Her expression of the culture, from the cafes to the art of talking with your hands, carries the story expertly to its inevitable end.

The cobbled Roman road we are brought down takes us through the journey of a relationship growing, from disinterest to interest, and on to a moment of captivation, and then to love, first as a motivator and then as a burden.

We are reminded that holidays are breaks from real life,
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Set against Tuscany’s elegant landscape is the fleeting romance of Sophie, a young Italian-British woman, and Tancredi, an older married man separated from his wife and children. Hazzard eloquently captured the indescribable pangs of love and found words for the incomprehensible, confusing, subtle, and unspecified. A romance so beautifully written you ache reading it.
Carolyn Mck
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
When Shirley Hazzard died last year I decided to re-read her work. I used to own a number of her books but culled them when I moved a few years back so now I'm dependent on the library which has all but one of her fiction titles.

The Evening of the Holiday is her first novel (1966) and an exquisite one. It is the story of a love affair in Tuscany - and written in a way that probably would not be possible today. Why? We would not expect renunciation. Tancredi is an Italian who has a reputation fo
Benjamin Rubenstein
Tancredi is one gangster-baller playa! (Says this Tancredi-worshiper currently reading this book that takes place in Tuscany, in Tuscany.) For example, these killer lines:
Page 34: ‘So you see,’ he said gravely, ‘you’re much better off here with me.’

Page 37: ‘Think of me - as another possibility, along with the letters and the walks.’

That said, this book is so much more than a collection of great pick-up lines. It speaks to some human truths. Here are some of the treasures in this book:

Page 95:
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one case in which the reviewer blurbs on the jacket are exactly right. They describe this beautiful novel by Shirley Hazzard, the winner of the National Book Award for "The Great Fire", far better than I can.
"Charged with great power...The impact on the reader is extraordinarily intense." - THe New York Times Book Review.
"A beautifully precise, ironic, and yet evocative style." - The New York Review of Books.
"An authentic work of art...A cause for delight and gratitude...Beautiful, absor
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read that Shirley Hazzard is the most under-rated Australian writer of the 20th century. This is the first of her books i have read. It was very, very good. Reminded me very much of Patrick White in style and content. Full of intriguing ideas and insights.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
A okay read; a bit too slow for me.
Lisa Dacko
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
It reminded me of The Bridges of Madison County.
Luann Thatcher
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully crafted. Transports the reader to a time of beauty and love left.
Sally Edsall
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Ambivalent about this. Elegantly written. Some phrases, paragraphs, passages are just gorgeous. The plot is thin, and it all appears so distant, as if viewing through a gauze veil.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Little gem of a book that I read in one sitting. Hazzard gets into the interior monologues of her characters with a delicate poignancy.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There’s an understated elegance in this short novel that tells the story of a young woman spending a holiday in the Italian countryside and an end of a summer romance. Amidst the courtesies of society, celebration of the town festival and walks in the countryside under the languid heat, Sophie and Tancredi’s romantic meetings leisurely unfold but not without its troubles.

Sophie, being half-Italian and half-English, appears to merely skirt along the core of Italian culture; an outsider looking in
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Evening of the Holiday is the first novel by Australian author Shirley Hazzard and was written in 1966. It is set in Tuscany and the main characters are Tancredi, a Sicilian architect recently separated from his wife and children, Sophie, half-English, half-Italian, on holiday in Tuscany and Luisa Brandi, Sophie’s aunt. Tancredi and Sophie first meet at his sister’s place. It is an inauspicious beginning to their love affair: he doesn’t think much of her looks; she finds him not at all attra ...more
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: c20th, australia
Shirley Hazzard is the acclaimed author of The Great Fire, which was longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction; shortlisted for the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and won the 2003 American National Book Award for fiction and subsequently the 2004 Miles Franklin Award. I am ashamed to realise that it took an American award for me to discover this very fine writer and her small but very interesting body of work.

The Evening of the Holiday is an enchanting book. Set in Tu
Mary Billinghurst
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
The author was recommended to me as someone I would enjoy. Shirley Hazzard writes beautifully with lovely, succinct prose. The Evening of the Holiday is really a novella, at a mere 125 pages.

In my opinion, the brevity is a problem. The main characters, Sophie, an Englishwoman visiting family in Tuscany over the summer, and Tancredi, a married Italian businessman, are not sufficiently developed. Since I never really got to know them, I did not care about them either.

Their affair constitutes the p
Aug 05, 2011 rated it liked it
This is really a 3.5 star read for me. I love Hazzard, and I love Italy. I read this book while in the country, a nice treat. I didn't find it as gripping as some of her other novels. There wasn't a whole lot of chemistry in the seduction, and I guess the role of detachment in a seasonal love affair is what Hazzard was trying to explore here. Some of the more intellectual passages were rather impenetrable, too. But if you love the Italian countryside, and you like a little romance, read it-- it' ...more
Lauren Albert
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
A very short read for those days you got nothing better to do.
Hazzard's descriptive writing of the Tuscan setting, her immersing illustration of every character's thought-process, the foreseeable pseudo-tragic course of Tancredi and Sophie's love affair draws you in from the first page.
Although it is hard to love any of the characters, you still feel a little connection to them.
It was nice, but unfortunately it is also forgettable.
Linda Leith
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shirley Hazzard's first novel, about a love affair in Tuscany. Beautifully written but slight, certainly, in comparison to her wonderful novel The Great Fire. It's still worth reading The Evening of the Holiday to understand the development of a writer. You can feel her trying things out, and some of them work beautifully.
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Author of fiction and non-fiction. Born in Australia, Shirley Hazzard now holds citizenship in Great Britain and the United States.

As a child she travelled the world due to her parents’ diplomatic postings and at 16, worked for the British Intelligence in Hong Kong, monitoring civil war in China. After this she lived in New Zealand, Europe, USA and Italy. In the USA she worked for the United Natio