Breakfast with Mrs. Palfrey

I had to travel up North to find at least a little bit of snow. Now I’m staring at the snow, having breakfast, and reading Elizabeth Taylor’s Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Her novel Angel was great but Mrs. Palfrey is a bleeding masterpiece. Why I never heard of it before is incomprehensible.

Taylor is a writer who is incapable of writing a sentence that is anything but beautiful. I want to speed through the novel to find out what happens next but the beauty of the writing stops me on every page.

Mrs. Palfrey is a novel about old age. Even in Angel it was clear that Taylor’s at her best when writing about elderly people. Chirbes read Taylor in his thirties and didn’t connect to the topic of aging. He connected deeply with Taylor’s description in Angel of what makes a writer. Chirbes didn’t live to be as old as Taylor’s characters in Mrs. Palfrey but I’m sure he would have appreciated the novel later in life. It’s such a great book, such a joy to read.

3 thoughts on “Breakfast with Mrs. Palfrey

  1. I just finished reading this one! I agree her writing is gorgeous. My favorite sentence: “She did not explain to him how deeply pessimistic one must be in the first place, to need the sort of optimism she now had at her command.”

    Liked by 1 person

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