The description on the novel’s back cover reads:
“Are we to go on until we are old, with just these odd movements here and there and danger always so narrowly evaded? Love draining away our vitality, our hold on life, never adding anything to us?” Passions intrudes into the dull, predictable world of a faded coastal resort when Tory, recently divorced, begins an affair with her neighbor Robert, the local doctor. His wife Beth, Tory’s best friend, writes successful and melodramatic novels, oblivious to household chores and the relationship developing next door. But their daughter Prudence is aware and appalled by Robert and Tory’s treachery. The resolution of these painful matters is conveyed with wit and compassion, as are the restricted lives of other characters: the refreshingly coarse Mrs. Bracey, the young widow Lily Wilson and the self-deceiving Bertram. In this enchanting and devastatingly well-observed novel, first published in 1947, Elizabeth Taylor again draws an unforgettable picture of love, loss, and the keeping up of appearances.
A View of the Harbour began as an unpublished book titled Never and Always. They are two distinctly different works, but share many characters and situations. By this time her work was gaining critical acclaim in Britain and Knopf, Taylor’s American publisher, was very enthusiastic about the book.
A View of the Harbour focuses on the day-to-day events and relationships of the community. Like any small town, people spend a lot of time watching one another and gossiping. Characters are presented first at a distance, as viewed through a window by a neighbor. But Taylor also transitions seamlessly to first-hand accounts of each character, bringing detail, depth and emotion to each situation. Many events play out through the perspective of Bertram, a visitor who has supposedly come to paint the scenery, but manages to insert himself into the lives of several community members. As he becomes acquainted with various people, so does the reader.
“Like” Virago Modern Classics Readers on Facebook!