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Eva Trout
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1001 Monthly Group Read > May {2018} Discussion -- EVA TROUT by Elizabeth Bowen

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message 1: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Discussion is open

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I ordered a used copy - why are most of these books not at my library??? - hope to join in the convo later.

Augusta Kirsten wrote: "I ordered a used copy - why are most of these books not at my library??? - hope to join in the convo later."

I had to to do the same! My library had some of Bowen's other books but not this one.

message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian | 138 comments Just started this. First time a group read has coincided with my own reading list. I'll warn everyone that my comments are likely to be favourable if past experience is anything to go by. I thought "The Heat of the Day" was stunning, "The Last September" almost as good and even her travelogue of "A Time in Rome" had plenty of merit. Bowen is top drawer in my book. Interesting to hear what others think.

Chuck | 24 comments 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, yet share very little with others (is she autistic? narcissistic personality disorder?).

Everyone seems to work hard at maintaining airs of invulnerability while one-upping each other with wounding observations. Interestingly, the one character that brings energy to the story, is Eva's custodian Constantine - an Oscar Wilde-ish dandy with a tongue sharp enough to cut glass. He astute observations and humorously bitter comments left me wondering if he, not Eva, was the surrogate character that speaks for the author. The story meander over years, locations, and characters, dipping into melodrama just as it's gaining steam.

My two stars are for Bowen's very descriptive and insightful observations. However, this novel delivered the ultimate blow by being so obvious in its setup of its painfully melodramatic ending, that I regret to report I accurately predicted, at least 50 pages prior, the very melodramatic and abrupt climax that roles out on the last 2 pages of the book.

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I enjoyed this book until the last 2 pages.

I really enjoyed the pages with the Dancey family the best (and wished the book was about THEM - what about Louisa???!!!????).

I did predict the ending (like Chuck) but not 50 page ahead of time!!!!

(I guess I should have figured that there was plenty of lead up to that.)

message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian | 138 comments 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 enjoy the dense, claustrophobic nature of her prose. Sometimes you can read a sentence and get the impression of turning a key in a lock, each clause being a lever dropping into place to open the whole.

Ellinor (1001andmore) | 835 comments Mod
I liked Eva Trout a lot better than I expected. I had previously read only one other book by Elizabeth Bowen, The House in Paris, which wasn‘t too bad but really boring and took me forever to finish.
With Eva Trout I just wanted to continue reading, always wanting to find out what what was coming next, which was often quite unexpected - as was the end, not sure how I feel about it.
Ian, I love how you describe Bowen‘s language. I often had to read a sentence twice to get its meaning, but once I understood what she was saying I was impressed how she did it.

Amanda Dawn | 185 comments I overall liked this book: though just as someone else stated, I did find the character of Eva to be weirdly self absorbed and juvenile in a way that seemed pathological and difficult to understand and sympathize with.

What I particularly loved about this book though, was how bizarrely modern it was in many respects: Eva is raised by her father's boyfriend(who is kind of a bastard- but so are most of the straight people in this book), she adopts a disabled boy who she refuses to have treated differently- even though she is still very Eva-ish as a mother (though still a better parental figure than most in the book).

When I was reading about this book I came across interpretations of 2 different themes in the book that I find interesting: the limits of communication, and the the idea that the surface is what is real not the perception that we have a secret "deep down". I can see how each of those could be true, but also maybe that is why a lot of the dialogue and characterizations in this book seemed weird and stilted to me.

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