I’m having a great time with the 2012 Elizabeth Taylor Centenary. Each month we read another of her novels, and each of the blog hosts has done a great job promoting the book of the month and organizing discussion. We’re also promoting the readalongs on the Virago Modern Classics Readers Facebook page. And I’m seeing more and more people on LibraryThing picking up on the buzz and rushing to their bookstore or library to discover Elizabeth Taylor. If by some chance you haven’t caught up with all this yet, my Elizabeth Taylor Centenary page has loads of links to blog posts and reviews.
Now it’s nearly June, when it’s my turn to host a readalong of Taylor’s sixth novel, The Sleeping Beauty. The description on the back cover reads:
The Sleeping Beauty is a love story of middle age by a writer whom Arthur Mizener called “the modern man’s Jane Austen.” Vinny Tumulty is a quiet, sensible man. When he goes to stay at a small English seaside resort his task is to comfort a bereaved friend, Isabella. A master of sympathy, Vinny looks forward to a few solemn days of tears and consolation. Then, on the evening of his arrival, he looks out of the window at sunset and catches sight of a mysterious, romantic figure: a beautiful woman walking by the seashore. Before the weekend is over, Vinny has fallen in love, completely and utterly, for the first time in his middle-aged life. But Emily is a sleeping beauty, her secluded life hiding bitter secrets from the past. How can this unlikely Prince Charming break the spell and rouse her from her dreams?
In her biography, The Other Elizabeth Taylor, Nicola Beauman writes, “As so often with Elizabeth’s work, there is room for half a dozen short stories within the one book (and in the case of The Sleeping Beauty she might have written six stories of genius rather than one good enough novel …)”
This book differs from ones we’ve read before, in that it has a male protagonist. Still, Taylor’s greatest talent lies in her observation of everyday life, and the ability to weave these observations together realistically and often with great wit. Doing so with a “male lead” will be an interesting twist.
I hope you’ll join me in reading The Sleeping Beauty in June. I’m planning to post on Wednesdays, with a full review on June 20. See you in June!