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Eva Trout

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  451 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Eva Trout, Elizabeth Bowen’s last novel, epitomizes her bold exploration of the territory between the comedy of manners and cutting social commentary.

Orphaned at a young age, Eva has found a home of sorts in Worcestershire with her former schoolteacher, Iseult Arbles, and Iseult's husband, Eric. From a safe distance in London, her legal guardian, Constantine, assumes that
...more
Paperback, 302 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Anchor (first published 1968)
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3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  451 ratings  ·  61 reviews


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Violet wells
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Objectively this is probably a four star book but I’m going the full hog because of how much relentless pleasure it gave me, not least of all because of its laugh-out-loud humour and original and wholly compelling cast of characters. It took Elizabeth Bowen a long time, until her last two books, to try her hand at a full blown comic novel and boy does she do it well. (The inept introduction makes the extraordinary claim that in this novel Bowen abandons comedy.)

Eva Trout, an orphaned heiress, c
...more
Fionnuala
I finished this book weeks ago, and what I now remember is that while I was reading it, I kept seeing a kaleidoscope in my mind's eye. As I turned the pages, there seemed to be more and more fractured images. So many things in this book are broken, the characters, the syntax, and even the narrative itself. But each broken thing is nevertheless beautiful, just as the fractured images revealed when we look into a kaleidoscope are beautiful. And, by the end of the book, all the broken elements had ...more
Hugh
The latest historic Booker shortlist project at The Mookse and The Gripes has reached 1970. Of the six, this was the one I was most looking forward to, as I have heard good things about Bowen but never read her. This was her last novel.

This book is a quirky dark comedy - it may be named for its central character but it is really more of an ensemble piece in which other characters are given plenty of breathing space. The language is often startling - Bowen employs rather odd sentence structures a
...more
Fabian
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it
You could hardly ever go wrong with heroine-titled tomes; books like “Olive Kitteridge,” “Madame Bovary,” “Elizabeth Costello,” "Emma," etc. But for the first time I was somewhat disappointed when I chose another, at random, to read (this tactic had been generally foolproof before, see). Eva, our main character, seems disjointed from her own time and place—she is mysterious yet languid; passionate though very passive—in all, still very much adhering to the ol’ Victorian values we’ve all come to ...more
Georgina
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved this. You could say Eva Trout deals with the enforced silence of women, which sets about a breakdown in communication in the larger social world. The prose is fragmented, forever cracking under some underground strain, like earth pressured by moving roots. Eva Trout is a rich untamed heiress and a perennial liar. She’s like a grown up version of Portia in The Death of the Heart – an innocent soul who wreaks havoc in the world around her. The novel features several truly brilliant complex ...more
Paul Bryant
May 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Maybe I’m being a little harsh here, but I was left thinking that Eva Trout is a revolting novel and it would be a good thing if no one ever read it except students specializing in revolting novels.
So why not fling it robustly against the Wall of Detested Books after the requisite 50 pages and pen a curt squib, render a 1 star rating, and leave it at that? Because…. The first half, maybe even two thirds, are really almost very good. And then comes the horror, the horror.

THE BETTER FOR BEING HAD
...more
Mariel
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cuckoo, cuckoo
Recommended to Mariel by: Laugh, I nearly died
One of my main reasons for reading is... Fuck, I was gonna write "understanding" but that's not really it. (For one thing, I don't.) I was hooked on Elizabeth Bowen from the start because she puts into words the expressions I only get in visuals (and sometimes I gotta try them on myself to see what they feel like. I'm a social retard. I've never mastered the "default expression"). Sinister shadows, meanings in protracted sighs, shit that goes over your head but you can still sense it was probabl ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
My first impression was that Elizabeth Bowen must have attended some sort of author's fair where they sold punctuation. Commas must have been selling for a very good price or the salesman was especially attractive or some other attraction for them that I haven't discerned.
Once alone, Mrs. Dancey, who already had a crick in her neck, saw no further need to study the castle. Instead, here was an unprecedented opportunity to study Eva, at length and in peace, from a safe distance. Eva, one saw stra
...more
Laura
This is the story of an orphaned girl who lost her mother in a crash airplane accident. She is raised by his father and after his death, by her solicitor, Constantine.

During her whole life, she tries to get her own free life even if she is not to grown up in doing that. Her inheritance will help to disengage from the Dancey's influence.

This is a psychological romance in the sense that it shows how Eva managed to arrive in her adulthood even if she has to pay a high price for it.
SarahC
Jun 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-womens-list
Bowen's Eva Trout is a dynamic story of a complicated young woman in late 1950's and 1960's England. Eva is wealthy, an orphaned young woman, emotionally remote and unsure even of the value of attachment. Her actions are rash, unexplainable and without true pattern. The scenes change often in the story as she finds reason to leave any homelike setting she may have established. She puzzles at relationships and acts detrimentally toward those steadily connected to her: a guardian who was once her ...more
Rachelle
I'm glad I read this book, simply because I came out of it with this quote, which I now apply to the world of social media even though it was written in 1968: "From large or small screens, illusion overspilled on to all beheld. Society revolved at a distance from them, like a Ferris wheel dangling buckets of people."
Isabelle Leo
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-summer
Elizabeth Bowen books be like......Mommy Issues
Sarah Tittle
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Sort of strange and ultimately disappointing. I love Elizabeth Bowen, but I realize that her language can feel stilted, mostly because her syntax is so odd.
Justin Evans
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marcos
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Hands down, the most interesting, challenging and engagingly original work of fiction I've read this year. Bowen is a commanding and angry writer, defying stereotypes and blatantly and stubbornly defends human ambiguities with gross exaggerations that one is left to nod in agreement: We're all weird, and I'm weird.
Emily
Jul 27, 2017 added it
I'm not totally giving up on Elizabeth Bowen yet, but this book was a complete and total let-down. After the first two chapters I had to stop and read the Wikipedia article about it because I was just tremendously lost on the nuance of the dialogue and I got the feeling something was happening in the story that wasn't immediately obvious in the text. Of course, all of this was done on purpose, but it didn't appeal to me. Clicking "I'm finished" to write this review was a lie but I just wanted to ...more
Kirsten #EnoughIsEnough
I really enjoyed this book until the last page then, ugh!! Why!!

Beautiful writing with a minimal plot. At times I wasn't sure what had happened and when. But the writing is excellent and I'll definitely read another by this author. I really enjoyed following the character. Though, I found myself liking the Danceys most of all and wishing she'd written a book about THEM instead.
Bob
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This the last of Bowen's books, set partly in 1959 and resuming in 1967. The story is not too period-specific but there is an implication that the protagonist, a very wealthy single woman in her 20s, had to go from the UK to America to adopt a child via some black market channels because that was the only way she could do so - not something I had previously thought about.
The titular Eva Trout is considerably insulated from the consequences of her own eccentricities by her inherited wealth. The c
...more
Cathy
Feb 05, 2008 rated it liked it
I honestly have no idea what to make of this book. Bowen's writing is beautiful, but she's produced a novel with a completely enigmatic central character, in which anything interesting or exciting happens before or after the action she describes. Weird, sullen, awkward Eva drifts about confounding the people she encounters. She adopts, or buys, or something a little boy in America, then returns to England to drift around some more.

She has some sort of malign influence on the people she encounte
...more
DoctorM
Sep 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
An unexpected find--- subtly, bleakly, wickedly funny. One of those dark British comedies of manners that should've been filmed in the heyday of small quirky Sixties films. Eva Trout herself is a lovely, surreal, romantically fey heroine who'd be remarkably difficult to cast. "Eva Trout" makes a lovely bookend to Bowen's "Death of the Heart", by the way. A little black gem of a book that's very much worth tracking down.
Kathleen
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Oh, bother, Eva! -- What it is is, outsize, larger-than-life in every way. That's how you fascinate the imagination. Years ago when you first came cracking into the vicarage you'd already been pointed out as A Very Rich Girl. We had none of us ever seen one -- it was like knowing a violinist, or something. There could be a trace of that still, I suppose; one so seldom completely outgrows things. But what harm?"
Jesi
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-lit
This was a weird, intense, gorgeous book. If Djuna Barnes and Virginia Woolf had a child and raised it on a steady diet of ghost stories, noir fiction, and queer lit, the result would be Elizabeth Bowen.
Rebecca McNutt
May 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, classic, ireland
Eva Trout is a classic, and it does have its amazing and often hilarious moments, but the book got a little confusing at times and I didn't think it was a very imaginative story.
Christina
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Women have come a long way since Eva Trout. I wish Eva would have lived in more contemporary society, such a tragedy.
Chuck
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1001
This was a real slog for me. Apparently, this was Bowen's last book in 1968 before she died. I have not read other Bowen, but I was constantly put off by, well, every character in the book. While many character's flaws are laid bare, I learned very little as to why they tick, or why I should care about them. The title character is a wounded and very insular woman. Other characters constantly talk about her oddness and how others struggle to like her. Eva tends to gracelessly do as she pleases, y ...more
Maryann
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1001
Eva Trout is a socially awkward woman, with not enough education and too much money. She can't seem to settle anywhere, and when she comes back from America with a child who is deaf and mute, nothing is really different. She seems to try to connect with the few constant people in her life, but is it ever really successful?

This was a strange book and I don't feel like I really get it. I read a couple reviews and commentaries immediately after finishing it, and I'm not the only one who felt that w
...more
Ian
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt that Eva was a character that had been living in Bowen's head for some time and in this, her last novel, she found a vehicle for her. It's far from a perfect novel, and some of the supporting cast seem to be making guest appearances from a different book entirely, but I loved the character of Eva herself, a woman who had every reason for happiness, but never felt comfortable in any of the roles society wanted to pigeon-hole her in. Bowen's manipulation of English is fascinating too. I enj ...more
Dave Morris
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Written in a series of sections that mostly take a close third-person view of a different character each time, this is written in an interestingly oblique way. Often you'll have read halfway into a new chapter before something that was unexplained in the previous chapter becomes clear. The dialogue is elliptical, motivations not clear even to the characters themselves. It felt a little over-authored, especially towards the end which can be seen coming like toppling dominoes, but worth it for the ...more
Daren Kearl
I found this book quite demanding as a reader. The sentences need exact concentration as the words do not always logically follow. Bowen is being deliberately difficult in a 1960s novel you would swear was of an earlier decade based on the text.
I felt it could have been like Waugh, such were the characters and situations, if it had been in a lighter style. Much of the humour was lost to me in the struggle.
Ian
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Too weird for 4 stars

Eva Trout is an heiress, she breaks up marriages, fakes pregnancy, obtains a child (deaf mute) from the US criminal underworld. Tours America for 8 years. Comes back to UK, sets off to marry an undergraduate little more than half her age and, finally, literally the last sentence: gets her comeuppance.

Honestly, this book is plain bonkers. But still, it's quite fun.
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Reading 1001: Eva Trout by Elizabeth Bowen 2 13 Jul 25, 2019 03:23PM  
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The Mookse and th...: 1970 Shortlist: Eva Trout 8 26 Feb 27, 2018 04:47AM  

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Elizabeth Dorothea Cole Bowen, CBE was an Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer.
“The way one is envisaged by other people - what easier way is there of envisaging oneself? There is a fatalism in one's acceptance of it. Solitude is not the solution, one feels followed. Choice - choice of those who are to surround one, choice of those most likely to see you rightly - is the only escape.” 4 likes
“The way downhill, into the bottomless incredulity which is despair, was incandescent with flowering chestnut trees.” 3 likes
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