Sunday, June 29, 2008

Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #84

Title: The Death of the Heart
Author: Elizabeth Bowen
Judgin' the Book By Its Cover: This isn't the cover that I have, but it's kind of funny. I have a totally tricked-out '70's version of the girl alone in posh surroundings... gotta love the used books at Housing Works...

Thoughts: Let's see... I finished this book over two weeks ago, but I'm still not sure what I think about it. The story is about Portia (the product of a father's middle-age infidelity), who is forced to live with her half-brother and his wife after the death of her parents. It's clear that her brother and sister-in-law view her as a burden and are unsettled by the unwavering gaze she fixes on them and their lifestyle. Like The Old Wives' Tale, the novel is a very close inspection of the interactions between family members who are emotionally distant.

As Portia feels more and more the distance between herself and her guardians, she draws near to Eddie, a clearly up-to-no-good older beau. The book seems to be a tale about a doomed romance that will certainly end with Portia as a ruined woman, but instead presents a probably more realistic and definitely more interesting look at first love and growing up. That said, it wasn't very much fun to read. It seems to be mainly about the cruelty of society and familial relations, and doesn't present much hope of overcoming this cruelty. So I can't really give it rave reviews. I'm learning more and more that the psychological novel isn't my favorite genre, although I'd be happy to change my mind on the subject (any suggestions?).