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The Long View

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  660 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Moving slowly back in time over twenty-four years we share moments in the life of Antonia Fleming.

The Long View roves through the years from the break-up of her marriage, through its gradual erosion, to the first meeting with her future husband.
Kindle Edition, 461 pages
Published July 2nd 2015 by Picador (first published 1956)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  660 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written.
Richly perceptive of ones emotions.
Moving backwards in time reveals a portrait of a marriage.
Antonia looks at her life and the choices she has made.
Do we know what love is?
This novel cuts to the heart with an eye for detail.
I loved it!
The Long View by Elizabeth Jane Howard is a brilliantly written but ultimately depressing story of a marriage. When we meet the Flemings they are ”celebrating” the engagement of their son who is entering a marriage that looks like it will replicate the disaster that is his parents’. After reading this story of Conrad, an interesting but selfish, difficult, and unlikable man, and his wife, Antonia, who searches for his approval over what feels like a lifetime, anyone might pause before getting ma ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Long View, by Elizabeth Jane Howard, narrated by Mary Wimbush, produced by BBC-WW, downloaded from

The main story is about a couple, Antonia and Conrad. It begins around 1950. This is the contemporary version of their marriage, basically a loveless marriage in which Antonia spent her life trying, and failing, to please Conrad, who married her because he thought he would have the pleasure of shaping her adult life. They have two children, both of whom have unsatisfactory love lives
Lucy Somerhalder
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
'[She had] an expanse of face too large for unhappily delicate features: minutely thin pale eyebrows, small blue eyes, a child's nose, and a tiny mouth; so that her expression was constantly like somebody trying to have a large party in a room with inadequate furniture.' The Long View is heartbreaking, compelling and so human, and also littered with casual GEMS like the one above. I absolutely love ol' EJH.
Jane Gregg
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gawd. This is a bleak backwardly constructed view of a marriage, told through the eyes of a woman who has been quite depleted by the various men in her life. The telling is rich, poetic and highly controlled, as one would expect from the genius EJH. Rewarding and revealing.
Lolly K Dandeneau
This is the sort of story that makes marriage (for a woman) seem like something to be avoided. The marriage between Antonia and Conrad is followed between different periods, and it is a cold, loveless one. Conrad is unlikable, distasteful- and easily one could ask is this what was expected back then, for men to 'father' their wife and have high expectations while being absent emotionally and often physically. Is this the recipe for the 'upper classes' in the 50's and before, all control and lack ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There aren't enough superlatives to describe how good this is. So clever, such a way with language, I've been in awe throughout.
The dissected history of a marriage from 1950 working backwards to 1927. Conrad Fleming is a Svengali-like figure who has moulded his wife; dictating everything about her from what she wears to her opinions. Mrs Fleming — we don't discover her name until halfway through the novel — appears cool, detached, uncaring and the novel traces her development into this creature
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This book isn't at all what it seemed from the first chapter, which I thought would be something like a literary, well-written soapy novel. Instead, the chapters go back in time to reveal the main character's life and marriage. It's puzzling at times, but beautifully written and deeply psychological. I liked it a lot.

Inspired to read this on the basis of a printed recommendation by Hilary Mantel:

First published in 1956, The Long View offers an insightful view of the different stages of a deeply unhappy marriage, one that ultimately seemed destined for disaster right from the start. The novel has a very interesting structure, beginning in 1950 when the couple in question – Antonia and Conrad Fleming – have been married for twenty-three years, and then winding back in time to 1942, 1937 and 1927, the time of their honeymoon. In this respect, it mirrors the structure of François Ozon’s exc ...more
Richard Smith
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think that you might read this book and don’t want to know anything about the plot, then read no further. Although the pleasure of the book is in the prose and acute observations of human relationships, so I don’t think that knowing a little about the book would matter much; and I’ve no idea anyway how much I will give away.

I’m writing this on my birthday. I pay little attention to birthdays, unlike my children, but I’ve felt that because it’s my birthday I can indulge myself. So instead
Giulia (juliareadingdiary)

So many conflicting thoughts about this one!
I think the choice of using reverse chronology to describe the development of the Flemings’ marriage is a really good one: it makes you go back to what you’ve just read and change perspective. Howard’s writing is always on point, even if some descriptions felt too long or unnecessary.

That being said, this book was a claustrophobic read for me. It started out great: the first part includes a lot of different points of view and I liked that, becaus
Clare O'Beara
From the start where we're told of a wife 'sinking to the occasion' of organising a house party, where people would consume 'glazed dazed little pieces of food', we realise that this is not going to be a story about a story but about the author's writing style. We met several extremely boring, snobby and self obsessed people in a 1950's London suburb. A wife who knows that she is passed over for a succession of mistresses and flings elicits no sympathy for having no backbone. A younger man in Ed ...more
Paula Cadle
Apr 27, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Made it about halfway thru this confusing rambling story. It could be called The Long Read or The Long Reference List.

The characters are sad, selfish and unlikable at the beginning. There seems to be a good amount of character development as you move back in time thru the story of the family and marriage. But, it is buried in layers of awkward references.

The detail and rambling passages leave me wondering what the initial comment was about. There are many references that mean nothing to me. Sin
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Long View reveals a marriage by starting in 1950 and moving backwards to 1926 through several of the couple's decisions. The rationalized misogyny, the forced relationship norms, and the white privileged undertone undergirds this book the same way that it does in Mad Men. These flaws of the characters realistically reflect the time. Yet Howard managed to say quite a bit about people generally through them. She captures pretty well, for example, the way couples bicker or people get carried aw ...more
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nearly impossible for me to give Elizabeth Jane Howard anything less than 5 stars because 5 stars means I will re-read and I always want to re-read her.

Her single novels often have interesting structures and this is no exception. She begins her tale at the end of an unhappy marriage and cleverly plots backwards finishing at the beginning of Mr & Mrs Fleming's love affair. Most of the novel is seen through Antonia Fleming's eyes and it is heartbreaking as it's clear she's married a highly un
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a soul-crusher. When the book started, and I met the miserable Mrs. Fleming and the hateful Mr. Fleming and their 2 stupid, selfish children I didn't know how I was going to bear spending enough time with them to finish the book.

But the story moves backward in time, so as you read on, the oppression lessens and some rays of light leak in. By the time I was at the end, there were some actual, enjoyable, light-hearted moments mixed in with the bittersweet.

Except...the story moves backward in
An enjoyable book about a marriage and how it came about. The storyline works backwards over 24 years and although the husband, Conrad Fleming, is an absolutely ghastly, manipulative character who you really wouldn't want to spend any time with. It's an interesting peek into a time when women were treated as little more than an extension of their husband - if they married the wrong sort.
Juliana Graham
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting narrative structure, in fact very similar to The Night Watch. Not one of my favourite EJH books, but still enjoyable and well written. Perhaps not one for reading if you were feeling a bit cynical about love!
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is brilliantly written - the description both of the surroundings, and insights into the character of the main players, is amazing. I gave it only 3 stars because, although I appreciate the talent of Elizabeth Jane Howard, I found it rather hard going in places.
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. A brutal, devastating account of a marriage - scarifying (almost) in its intense examination of control & domination.
Sarah Harries
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly written, though difficult to read at times, as the structure of the whole book is backwards and the subject matter is dark. Overall, thought provoking and admirablly different :)
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are one or two false notes in this novel, that coming from such an accomplished writer and one whom I usually enjoy unreservedly, I found jarring. In much of the book Howard’s unerring eye is in evidence, with her acute social observation, her ear for dialogue and her insight into women’s inner selves. But here she creates a male character who is so unlikable that her normal sure touch seems to fail her and he seems little more than a caricature of an arrogant, domineering and malevolent m ...more
Bev Taylor
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
welcome to the meeting and marriage of antonia and conrad fleming

it starts in the present day - 1950 - and then flits backwards and forwards through 3 decades.

mainly told thru the perspective of antonia

to be honest i found this one difficult to relate to. i found it impossible t believe that someone could be so naive and also stay in such a marriage. surely they could see what was clearly under their nose, both with family and friends? but then those were different times to those of today

Roger Pettit
Elizabeth Jane Howard is undoubtedly an intelligent and talented writer. I recently read and enjoyed one of her other novels, 'After Julius'. I like 'The Long View' too. There is much to admire in it. It's a sensitive and insightful account of the breakdown of a marriage. But I don't think it's the classic that professional critics and other novelists, such as Hilary Mantel (who contributes an introduction to the Picador Classics edition that I have just read), seem to think it is. For me, it ha ...more
Dave Morris
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't hold with reviewing a book by means of star-ratings, but since Goodreads insists on it I'd better qualify these 4 stars. The final part of the book (the first episode chronologically) is absolutely brilliant. There are passages of prose that are so beautiful that you have to go back and savour them. The events here have an irresistible momentum - proof that a work of literary fiction can also be a page-turner. The characterization is nuanced, fascinating, insightful. When it comes to a c ...more
I suppose this is influenced by JB Priestly and Proust-the experimenting with time and there is much of Virginia Woolf too. The novel's chapters progress backwards chronologically, as in Priestly, showing in subseuqent events what was the cause of the situation later in time with which we were presented earlier in time. The characters are grim and very egotistical but we see how they become so through the damage caused to them by their encounter with others. The main character of the novel suffe ...more
Jo Dervan
This is an intimate look at a marriage between two very different people. When the story begins in 1950, Conrad and Antonia Fleming, an upper class English couple, are living separate lives and communicate via letters sent to his club. Their son, Julian, is set to marry an innocent, insecure young woman. Their unmarried daughter, Deirdre, is pregnant but does not love her partner.

Then the book ventures back to 1942 and examines the Fleming's lives as World War II is taking place. We see the dep
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nearly impossible for me to give Elizabeth Jane Howard anything less than 5 stars because 5 stars means I will re-read and I always want to re-read her.

Her single novels often have interesting structures and this is no exception. She begins her tale at the end of an unhappy marriage and cleverly plots backwards finishing at the beginning of Mr & Mrs Fleming's love affair. Most of the novel is seen through Antonia Fleming's eyes and it is heartbreaking as it's clear she's married a highly un
Pam Baddeley
Well written literary fiction examining a woman's life from 1950 back to her meeting her husband and why she marries such a self absorbed awful man. It has to be said that all the men in this book apart from the odd bit part such as the convalescing naval officer, are fairly awful and extremely dismissive of women. There are some good psychological scenes such as when she tries to protect her father - men in this book almost wilfully misinterpret a woman's good intentions in the worst possible l ...more
Paul Chiswick
I have mixed feelings about this book - hence 3 stars.
I liked the clever structure, working back in time from 1950 to 1927. In places the writing was very beautiful, lyrical in quality. Yet in many places it was over elaborate, forced for the sake of literariness. It read as if the story, beginning in 1950, should have been in 1930. I was born in 1951 and the settings, language and social behavior seemed to belong almost to Victorian times. The main character was dreadfully sad, though I found h
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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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“It was foolish to indulge in elaborate preconceptions: anticipation was a featherweight, doomed to compete with the inevitable, convincing bulk of reality. The trouble was that one had to face reality without knowing beforehand precisely what it was to be. One had somehow to discover and tread the hard, between the sloughs of fearing the worst and hoping for the best.” 1 likes
“... the house seemed filled with dusty sunlight, which rose politely from wherever it had been resting on floors and windowsills, and then hung motionless and golden in the air until they moved to another room.” 0 likes
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