Friday, May 29, 2015

Elizabeth Jane Howard: Mr. Wrong

I'll be so sad when I've finished reading through Elizabeth Jane Howard's novels--only three left unread!  Mr. Wrong was a treat, especially since I read it immediately after finishing the difficult Autobiography of William Butler Yeats.

I love this pulpy cover

Mr. Wrong is actually a collection of short stories, and "Mr. Wrong," the first story, is a macabre tale of a young woman and the creepy things that happen after she buys a second-hand MG after moving away from her parents to London.  I didn't realize that EJH wrote spooky stories, and she does it well.  "Mr. Wrong" is deliciously suspenseful, with hints at gruesomeness, but is also a poignant story of how lonely it can be in the big city, the difficulty in making friends, and dealing with overbearing parents.  Other stories in the book concern failing marriages, a ten year old girl who makes desperate bargains with God in order to calm her anxiety about her mother, a brief sexual encounter on the way to the train station in Marseille, and a disturbing account of an overbearing stage mother and her daughter.  The final story, "Three Miles Up" brings us back to the supernatural, as two men on a boating holiday on the canals, take a mysterious girl on as a member of the crew.

One thing that EJH excels at is writing from a child's perspective.  Her children are so real, especially the way their half-savage behavior, and entirely alien-to-adults reasoning are depicted. Two of the stories, "The Devoted" and "The Whip Hand" are about children, and I think these two were my favorites in the collection.

If you have never read Elizabeth Jane Howard, you must. You really must, although it might be best to start with The Beautiful Visit or her Cazalet series.

9 comments:

  1. I can't even tell you how long the Cazalet series has been on my wish list. Series in general tend to scare me, but I'm enjoying Trollope's Barsetshire novels so much, I may have to reconsider that stance!

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    1. The Cazalet series is definitely worth reading, and it's only five books. The movie is great too, but it's really disappointing that they never filmed the sequel.

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  2. I love short stories. I think I should start reading her with this collection.

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  3. I have her Cazalet series on my wish list. Like JoAnn I am reading Trollope's Barsetshire novels, so will finish them first. As you said about EJH I will be sad when this Trollope series ends.

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    1. You're the second person to comment on this post about the Barsetshire series! I read the first books in it so long ago, I'm starting to think I should start from the beginning rather than pick up where I left off.

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  4. You have me hooked on her, am in the middle of the Cazalet series and LOVE this woman's writing.

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    1. Yay! I hope you write a post about her.

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  5. Thanks for the top tip have never read her..... yet!!

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