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The Heat Of The Day

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,732 ratings  ·  209 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
Kindle Edition, 340 pages
Published June 11th 2015 by Vintage Digital (first published 1948)
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3.45  · 
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 ·  1,732 ratings  ·  209 reviews


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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
Lisa
"They were the creatures of history, whose coming together was of a nature possible in no other day - the day was inherent in the nature."

This novel reads like a riddle. What am I? Am I a spy thriller? Am I historical fiction? Am I a love story? A character study? An experimental mix of all those things?

As a plot, I suspected I wouldn't like it, and I was wrong. A two-faced spy in wartime London, working for the enemy - Nazi Germany? How could I possibly find anything likable in his characte
...more
Fionnuala
In the second half of this WWII book, there's a crucial scene set in a basement bistro in blackout London. As the main character, whose name is Stella, descends the stairs and enters the brightly lit space where a row of people are seated along the bar, she feels that she's seeing everything in extra detail, as if she were viewing it on a cinema screen. She has the vague thought that it's not a real bar but instead some kind of artificial set-up which her companion, who claims to be a secret ser ...more
Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london, world-war-two
"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
...more
Jaidee
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of intelligence and survival
Recommended to Jaidee by: Violet wells
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "astonishingly astute and unsentimentally intimate" stars !!!

I had the pleasure in 2015 to read The Death of the Heart and was moved by the experience of young sixteen year old Portia that was cruelly played by some minor villains. That was one of my top ten reads of that year and rated a very high 4.5 stars.

This book surpasses that one in scope, insight and atmosphere. This is a chamber masterpiece that is mostly conversational in nature taking place in London and surrounding countryside du
...more
Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Susan
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Published in 1948, this is famous as Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘war novel.’ Written during the war, Bowen does not need to get her historical details correct, as she is living them. As such, this is truly representative of London in wartime; unsettled, damaged, dangerous. When Stella Rodney travels to Ireland to visit the country house her son, Roderick, has been left by Cousin Francis, she delights in the lights spilling from the windows. You do feel the darkness of the city – whether the characters ar ...more
Roger Brunyate
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women, top-reviews, ww2
 
Totality

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
...more
Julie
Dear god in heaven, no. This is just not working for me. Closed the book, literally, on page 61. I’m relieved that I’m decades removed from undergrad hell where one would have had to suffer through this, as penance, if one hoped to survive the course.

Bowen is an exceptional and talented writer but in this one she lost the plot ... that she never had. Ironically, I think this could well be the best plot ever invented for an award winning film — one that I would even pay to see; however, as a nov
...more
Cecily
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.
Diane
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
...more
Bruce
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
...more
John
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Challenging read, but insightful, with some absolutely amazing prose. The story and characters lingered with me.
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
...more
Margaret
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
...more
Charlotte
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.
Christine
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
...more
Nicole
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
...more
Mark
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the posts on this book are the best I have read since I joined 'goodreads' and for me Chapter Five remains the best prose I have read as an evocation of that dangerous time of fractured lives, random love and smouldering passion amongst the ruins of London at the time of the Blitz. Tense, suffocating and foreboding, now I have a vivid sense of the very essence of my Mother who indeed lived and loved, and mourned, in war torn London.

Readers are drawn to the central theme but the lovers re
...more
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
Gail
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Ali
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Peggy
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
...more
J A
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bettie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are six novels by Elizabeth Bowen listed in the 2006 edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. a distinction awarded to no other woman writer of the 20th century except for Iris Murdoch and Virginia Woolf (and not too many men either). Bowen’s listed novels are, in order of publication
•The Last September (1929);
•To the North (1932);
•The House in Paris (1935);
•The Heat of the Day (1949);
•A World of Love (1955); and
•Eva Trout (1968) (This one was nominated for the Booker in 1970,
...more
Marc
London in World War II. Mix of spy and love story. The classy, but a bit errant Stella is warned by the spooky Harrison that her lover Robert is a German spy. Stella is disturbed by this rumor. struggles with the slur. Others story lines handle her son Roderick and his Irish heritage, and also the errant workers girl Louie. Bowen has succeeded in creating a menacing atmosphere. The style is condensed and so a difficult read. As a mixture of Greene (The End of The affair) and Woolf this novel is ...more
Kelly
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: http://agiddything.booklikes.com/post...
Jesi
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.
George
3.5 stars. An enjoyable, intriguing, vividly written, character based story set in London during World War II. Stella is in her mid to late 30s, single but going out with Robert who is about five years younger. Robert was injured in Dunkirk in 1940 and has a limp. Stella has a son, Roderick. Stella becomes acquainted with a man named Harrison who tells her Robert is a spy. It’s an interesting, slow paced read that provides an fascinating perspective on what it was like living in London during th ...more
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review 2 5 Jul 19, 2018 03:40AM  
Reading the 20th ...: The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen (May/June 2018) 48 22 May 29, 2018 03:49AM  
Oh God 3 14 May 06, 2017 02:45PM  

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256 followers
Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
“Habit, of which passion must be wary, may all the same be the sweetest part of love.” 7 likes
“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
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