Friday, August 17, 2007

The Other Elizabeth Taylor

Benjamin Schwarz writes in the latest Atlantic about the British writer Elizabeth Taylor. I had only vaguely heard of her before reading the piece, but it's got me interested. Kingsley Amis called her "one of the best English novelists born in this century." The century being the 20th, of course. Also, the start of this sentence caught my eye, for obvious reason:
While her writing betrays a keen and obviously knowledgeable interest in horse betting...she confined her fiction largely to her limited social field: the relationships and inner lives of well-heeled women in the pretty villages of the Home Counties and in shabby-genteel Kensington and Chelsea.
She also appeared to have a high tolerance for routine, something else to which I can relate:
Like Jane Austen, the writer with whom she's most often compared, Taylor led a perversely mild and parochial life. Before she was married, she worked as a governess and a librarian. With her husband, the director of his family's confectionary company, she had a boy and a girl (her fiction displays a remarkable ear for the speech of children and a subtle grasp of their peculiar obsessions, suspicions, and insecurities). Ensconced in an upper-middle-class Buckinghamshire village, she was fascinated and deeply comforted by the daily routine of domestic life, the details of which she gave minute attention in her fiction. "I dislike much travel or change of environment and prefer the days ... to come round almost the same, week after week," she said.


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