Literature and War Readalong March 28 2013: The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen

The Heat of The Day

March is Elizabeth Bowen month for me. I’m reading her short stories and Victoria Glendinning’s Bowen biography. It’s time to get to one of her novels and I’m looking forward to reading The Heat of the Day. In the foreword to her biography Glendinning writes

She is to be spoken of in the same breath as Virginia Woolf, on whom much more breath has been expended. She shares much of Virginia Woolf’s perception and sensibility: but Elizabeth Bowen’s perception and sensibility are more incisive, less confined, more at home in the world as well as in world’s elsewhere.

The Heat of the Day is set in London in September 1942. It’s called “a noir” which isn’t exactly a genre I would have expected from Elizabeth Bowen but she has a knack for the mysterious and less obvious which, I’m sure, will make this a great read.

Here are the first sentences

That Sunday, from six o’clock in the evening, it was a Viennese orchestra that played. The season was late for an outdoor concert; already leaves were drifting on to the grass stage – here and there one turned over, crepitating as though in the act of dying, and during the music some more fell.


The discussion starts on Thursday, 28 March 2013.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2013, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.

27 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong March 28 2013: The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen

  1. This is an excellent novel, as I found out when I reread it a couple of years ago. What I had missed the first time around was the subtle humor, especially regarding family connections. If you are too young to remember World War II, this will give you some feeling for the time.

    • I’m glad to hear it and really looking forward to it. I’ll have to pay attention to the humor then.
      She is a very complex writer and I’m keen on finding out how it will be to read a novel. The short stories which are set during the war are all excellent. I have no experience of WWII at all. It will be interesting.

  2. Interesting choice for the March Literature and War Readalong, Caroline. I read one Elizabeth Bowen story called ‘Sunday Afternoon’ for last year’s ‘Irish Literature Week’. It has a war theme and in some ways it was a love story too. I liked very much that Atlantic Monthly blurb on the cover image that you have posted – ‘Graham Greene thriller projected through the sensibility of Virginia Woolf’. It is also interesting to know that Bowen is compared favourably with Virginia Woolf by her biographer Glendinning. I will look forward to hearing your thoughts on ‘The Heat of the Day’. Happy reading!

    • I think it is an interesting choice and I’m looking forward to it. I only hope it’s not as complicated as some of her shorter work. I just read a story and will write about it shortly… Very complex.
      I thought the blurb made this sound fantastic.

  3. OMG there is that cover! However, here is what I found on Wikipedia:

    “Bowen’s war novel The Heat of the Day (1949) is considered one of the quintessential depictions of London atmosphere during the bombing raids of World War II.”

    Okay, I’m in.

    • I actually don’t have that cover. Mine is very different but I couldn’t find it online. You would like it far better.
      I have high hopes for this book. I hope you will like it as well.

  4. I’m looking forward to this one. I haven’t read Elizabeth Bowen in years and will be interested to see how she strikes me after the passage of time.

  5. This is not an author I’ve read before, but I like that opening paragraph. The rhythm of the second sentence reflects its contents – moody, melancholy, leaves drifting to the ground. Look forward to your review, Caroline!

  6. I’ve just started reading this and am looking forward to it. She writes beautifully, but it’s the sort of writing that (for me anyway) requires attention, so I want to give myself plenty of time with it. I also plan on reading a story or two. I look forward to hearing about the Glendinning bio as my library has it, and it might, too, be well worth a read if I get really hooked this month. I’ve read a few of her other books and short stories, but it’s been a number of years now since I’ve read any of her work.

    • Some of her short stories require a lot of attention, so thanks for telling me, I might start earlier as well.
      The biography starts very well but it’s so full of infer, it might be hard to finish this month.

  7. Pingback: Group Read of The Heat of the Day | 50 Year Project

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