Elizabeth Taylor Reading Project discussion

At Mrs Lippincote's
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At Mrs Lippincote's > At Mrs Lippincote's STARTING Thoughts/Discussion questions

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Karen | 211 comments Mod
Thoughts on starting Readalong of 'At Mrs Lippincote's'


Tania | 43 comments I have had a busy weekend, so not much time for reading, but I have started this.
I love Oliver's view on books, going to the library to bid farewell to Lorna Doone, his favourite book and then kissing the 2 beside it when he finds it has been borrowed.


Elizabeth (Alaska) I started At Mrs Lippincote's today. I read part of the introduction by Valerie Martin (not much, I'm pretty spoiler averse.)

Though I never met either of them, Kingsley Amis introduced me to Elizabeth Taylor. He did it slyly, with deceptive nonchalance, as one might present a powerful relative to an acquaintance at a party; he knew she was important but he had his doubts about me. This happened in his novel Difficulties With Girls. After a poor lunch of macaroni cheese, Jenny Standish, much neglected wife of the libidinous Patrick, has gone to the library in search of steady company. 'Everything seemed to be out, bar an enormous saga about Southern Belles, but then she spotted a new Elizabeth Taylor on the returns shelf.' At home Jenny is disappointed to discover that 'the new Elizabeth Taylor turned out to be an old Elizabeth Taylor in a new impression and have checked, always advisable with an author whose books were marvellous but rather the same.'

For any novelist, let alone one as famously cranky and hard on the women as Sir Kingsley, to stop cold the progress of his own story in order to extol the virtues of another novelist is unusual, to say the least. In spite of the mild cavil about 'sameness', Amis has gotten the full name in three times and coupled it with the adjective 'marvellous', clearly intent upon a forceful recommendation. As a reader I had no choice but to ask myself - who is this Elizabeth Taylor?




Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hi Tania, yes i agree, Julia's son Oliver is a true book lover !


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the interesting comment.
I have just got myself a copy of The Other Elizabeth Taylor , have you read this one yet?


Elizabeth (Alaska) Karen wrote: "Hi Elizabeth, thanks for the interesting comment.
I have just got myself a copy of The Other Elizabeth Taylor , have you read this one yet?"


No I haven't. I think I'll see to getting all of hers read first - or at least well into them!

I'm enjoying this, she seems just my type of author.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hi Elizabeth,
Elizabeth Taylor wrote this novel during World War Two, while her husband was in the Royal Air Force.
I'm thinking this story is more than likely based on her own feelings at that time.
It must be difficult for the character Julia, having her husband's cousin living with her family too


Tania | 43 comments I have heard that it is semi-autobiographical and that Julia was probably in part based on her. All very vague. Interesting as she is a flawed and not particularly likeable character. Having said that, I liked her.


Squeak2017 I thought elements of the cousin’s character were ET since she famously had a lengthy affair with a socialist or Union leader in real life. If her husband was anything like Roddy, then it puts her adultery into context.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hi Tania, half way through and i agree, Julia is quite a unlikeable character. Sometimes being quite cruel to her husband's cousin Eleanor and even her own son Oliver now and then.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hello Squeak2017, yes i've heard this too, and she seems to enjoy flirting shamelessly with her husband's Wing Commander


message 12: by Haaze (last edited Aug 02, 2018 12:15PM) (new) - added it

Haaze | 1 comments I'm embarrassed to state that I have never heard about Elizabeth Taylor (the author), but she clearly has a reputation in England. Why is she not more widely known? Besides, perhaps there should be a thread devoted to the author? Just a suggestion.... :)


Tania | 43 comments Maybe she has been overshadowed by her more famous namesake. Excellent writer, though.


message 14: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul (booksdofurnisharoom) | 12 comments I've made a start and not really feeling the love for any of the characters, apart perhaps from Eleanor reading the Daily Worker in her bedroom so as not to be caught!


Elizabeth (Alaska) Paul wrote: "I've made a start and not really feeling the love for any of the characters, apart perhaps from Eleanor reading the Daily Worker in her bedroom so as not to be caught!"

Yes, this was in the days of Stalin. She certainly couldn't be seen to be a sympathizer.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hello Haaze, yes i agree, i only recently heard of Elizabeth Taylor's novels and short stories. Thank goodness for Virago !


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Great writing and she seems a funny character herself , with a great sense of humour!


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hello Paul, I agree Eleanor is quite a character and i do feel sorry for her. Each character trying to be perfect in the story and all hiding secrets.


Canadian Reader Hello all,
I’m late getting started as the book only recently came in for me at my local library through interlibrary loan. In the meantime I read and completed Palladian (which was interesting enough, but I wasn’t crazy about). Hope to get going full steam and look forward to reading all the commentary!


message 20: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Gosh! You’re all so fast! :0)
I’ve just started but have quite a few books on the go...


Elizabeth (Alaska) Veronique wrote: "Gosh! You’re all so fast! :0)
I’ve just started but have quite a few books on the go..."


I was anxious to get started. I suspect I won't have all of the others read and ready to discussion on the first or second of the month.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Veronique wrote: "Gosh! You’re all so fast! :0)
I’ve just started but have quite a few books on the go..."

Hello Veronique, no worries, join in anytime : )


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Canadian wrote: "Hello all,
I’m late getting started as the book only recently came in for me at my local library through interlibrary loan. In the meantime I read and completed Palladian (which was interesting en..."

Hello Canadian, ok no worries : )


message 24: by Mela (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mela (melabooks) | 29 comments I start reading it in a two, three day. I can't wait.

I have read her three books by now and love all of them!


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Mela wrote: "I start reading it in a two, three day. I can't wait.

I have read her three books by now and love all of them!"

Look forward to hearing your thoughts Mela


message 26: by Mela (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mela (melabooks) | 29 comments I have just started (literally I had time only for one chapter) but from the start I see:

- a few ordinary people with their ordinary life (although perhaps not in the ordinary times)

- a little crack that can become a big hole (and some kind of tragedy) or can be coped with.


carissa Just got my library copy yesterday...and first American edition in library hardcover binding...am beginning tonight.
My first Elizabeth Taylor book. I know nothing about her works.
Well, aside from recognizing the a few of the titles...have not seen the movies either.


Elizabeth (Alaska) carissa wrote: "My first Elizabeth Taylor book. I know nothing about her works. "

We're starting this adventure together! Hope you like this and the others.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
carissa wrote: "Just got my library copy yesterday...and first American edition in library hardcover binding...am beginning tonight.
My first Elizabeth Taylor book. I know nothing about her works.
Well, aside f..."

Hello Carissa,
Look forward to chatting with you about them
Karen : )


message 30: by Pamela (last edited Aug 13, 2018 11:38AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Pamela (bibliohound) Just picked this up from the library today, and am enjoying it so far.

Not keen on any of the adults, but they are interesting all the same. Julia going through Mrs Lippincote's private papers was pretty awful, she comes across as very selfish.

I did think it must be tough having to have your husband's relative living with you, especially when you don't get on. That seems to have been pretty common during and just after WWII but must have added to the strain for families.


carissa I am happy to report that I can't stop laughing at the dialogue and the weirdness going on in this book. It's akin to real-life, but Taylor's choices in what to report are hilarious! The "They managed with some cheese." conversation...haHA! Astute, yet a bit over-the-top, yet cruel, but true...marvelous.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
carissa wrote: "I am happy to report that I can't stop laughing at the dialogue and the weirdness going on in this book. It's akin to real-life, but Taylor's choices in what to report are hilarious! The "They mana..."
Hello Carissa, ha ha : D yes Elizabeth Taylor does seem to like a bit of humour in her books


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "Just picked this up from the library today, and am enjoying it so far.

Not keen on any of the adults, but they are interesting all the same. Julia going through Mrs Lippincote's private papers was..."

Hello Pamela,
Happy you are enjoying it so far and look forward to hearing your thoughts when you have finished.


Noël (the_book_rook) | 6 comments Started today and was immediately grabbed by the writing. I think I’m going to like this project. I’ve never read any Taylor.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Noël wrote: "Started today and was immediately grabbed by the writing. I think I’m going to like this project. I’ve never read any Taylor."
Hello Noel, will look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Join in whenever you wish with any of the books
Best Wishes Karen : )


Lynaia | 4 comments This is one of the many books that came in at my library recently. Expect to start it soon.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Lynaia wrote: "This is one of the many books that came in at my library recently. Expect to start it soon."
Hello Lynaia, look forward to hearing your thoughts : )


Danada I was able to borrow this from the library -- hope to start soon! :)


message 39: by Hugh (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hugh (bodachliath) | 6 comments I have just got hold of a copy - read the first 7 chapters last night and I am really enjoying it so far


Elizabeth (Alaska) I'm glad you've joined us, Hugh.


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Hugh wrote: "I have just got hold of a copy - read the first 7 chapters last night and I am really enjoying it so far"
Hi Hugh and Danada, happy you have joined in both : )


message 42: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul (booksdofurnisharoom) | 12 comments Finished now: review will follow;


Karen | 211 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Finished now: review will follow;" thanks for joining in Paul


Jerrie (jerriechiu) I got started on this one quite late in the month, so I'm just now joining the group discussion. Someone notes above that this may be semi-autobiographical. I hope that other books in by her are less so. This book was probably very relevant when written regarding the gender roles issues, but, as a modern reader, I was very frustrated with Julia. She seemed somewhat spoiled.


Squeak2017 I’m intrigued by your comment about Julia being spoilt. I think she assets herself to break out of the little woman at home doormat role which would have been expected of her in the 1940s. And why not? If Roddy can play around and please himself, I why shouldn’t she go for an evening walk or chat to others outside the home? She was breaking the mould, certainly, but I’m not sure I would call her spoilt. She puts up with her husband’s infidelity, his hostile cousin in her home, his patronising boss, the unsympathetic wives of his colleagues, his social unease about what she might say - I think she is remarkably tolerant of other spoilt people!


Elizabeth (Alaska) This is the starting thread. Probably shouldn't have spoilers in it.


message 47: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kaso | 15 comments My copy of At Mrs. Liipincote’s arrived from England today, I am quite sad I cannot find a cover for this Virago Modern Classics edition on Goodreads as it has a lovely floral cover with delphiniums & hollyhocks which reminds me of my cottage garden in our first & second homes when we lived in Chalfont St Peter in Buckinhamshire while we were there for the U.S. Navy. The book heartens me back to my original edition from the 1980s which is somewhere, but not to hand at the moment. Looking forward to beginning.


message 48: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kaso | 15 comments Please disregard the extra “i” above in Lippincote, over enthusiastic keyboard. ;-)


Elizabeth (Alaska) Kim - is your edition on Goodreads but without a cover? or does it just not appear at all?


message 50: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim Kaso | 15 comments As far as I can tell, it does not appear at all. I did not see any Virago edition listed for 2006. They did a reissue around then of most of the books, they all have lovely floral covers. I tweeted a photo of the cover an hour or so ago to @goodreads.


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