Rebecca's Reviews > Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
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it was amazing
bookshelves: obscure-classics, booker-shortlisted

(4.5) A charming little book about ageing and prejudice. The relationship between Mrs. Palfrey and Ludo, who masquerades as her grandson, is not, as the blurb might suggest, some tawdry cougar romance. “What a strange friendship we have” is Mrs. Palfrey’s better description. Taylor’s two main settings – a shabby-chic hotel with an enclave of elderly residents, and a miserable bedsit where Ludo’s struggling to write (a deliberate nod to George Gissing’s New Grub Street) – contrast wonderfully. Her habit of inserting asides from multiple minor characters reminds me of Jane Austen. Overall, the tone of gentle regret and enduring good humor lies somewhere between All Passion Spent and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

As Paul Bailey writes in his introduction to this Virago edition, “[Taylor’s] reports from the chintz-bedecked battlefields are of lasting value, for the simple reason that they are exquisitely written.” I much preferred this to Angel. It’s a quick read with an almost fable-like simplicity of structure and character, but explores old age and life’s disappointments with great tenderness. I will read much more from this underrated novelist; A Wreath of Roses may tempt me next.
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Reading Progress

July 19, 2013 – Shelved
July 19, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
October 9, 2014 – Started Reading
October 16, 2014 – Shelved as: obscure-classics
October 16, 2014 – Shelved as: booker-shortlisted
October 16, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Lynda Lovely film was made of this book


Rebecca Lynda wrote: "Lovely film was made of this book"

I noticed that on this cover image (though my library copy was an older Virago edition). I quite like Joan Plowright and Rupert Friend, so it should be worth a watch.


Lynda Absolutely. Joan Plowright was wonderful . I remember finding it very touching but not in a trite sentimental way


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