A View of the Harbour (1947)

by Elizabeth Taylor

A decaying coastal town just after World War II is the setting for Elizabeth Taylorís third novel, in which she explores the inner lives of its residents and of a newcomer. The newcomer is a retired naval officer who arrives to paint coastal scenes. The residents include a writer whose household demands compete with finishing a novel; her recently divorced, lonely neighbor and best friend, who is falling in love with the writerís husband, the town doctor; a nasty, paralyzed retired shopkeeper and her morose daughters; a sad war widow who runs the wax museum; and a handful of other flawed characters. Treating them all as ordinary people, Taylor displays her acute perceptiveness while making no judgments. A running theme involving the carefree painter and the harried novelist asks whose circumstances are more conducive to making art.

British novelist Taylor was not well known in the United States until her novels were reissued in the NYRB Classics series. She has been called a later-day Jane Austen.


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