On a rainy Sunday in January, the recently widowed Mrs Palfrey arrives at the Claremont Hotel where she will spend her remaining days. Her fellow residents are magnificently eccentric and endlessly curious, living off crumbs of affection and snippets of gossip. Together, upper lips stiffened, they fight off their twin enemies: boredom and the Grim Reaper.
Then one day Mrs Palfrey strikes up an unexpected friendship with Ludo, a handsome young writer, and learns that even the old can fall in love . . .
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Elizabeth Taylor (1912-75) is increasingly being recognised as one of the best writers of the twentieth century. She wrote her first book, At Mrs Lippincote's, during the war, and this was followed by eleven further novels and a children's book, Mossy Trotter. Her short stories appeared in Vogue, the New Yorker and Harper's Bazaar. Rosamond Lehmann considered her writing 'sophisticated, sensitive and brilliantly amusing, with a kind of stripped, piercing feminine wit', and Kingsley Amis regarded her as 'one of the best English novelists born in this century'.Review:
Elizabeth Taylor's exquisitely drawn character study of eccentricity in old age is a sharp and witty portrait of genteel postwar English life facing the changes taking shape in the 60s ... Much of the reader's joy lies in the exquisite subtlety in Taylor's depiction of all the relationships, the sharp brevity of her wit, and the apparently effortless way the plot unfolds ... Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is, for me, her masterpiece -- Robert McCrum 'the 100 best novels', Guardian Jane Austen, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Elizabeth Bowen - soul-sisters all Anne Tyler Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: an author of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth. As a reader, I have found huge pleasure in returning to Taylor's novels and short stories many times over. As a writer I've returned to her too - in awe of her achievements, and trying to work out how she does it -- Sarah Waters One of the most underrated novelists of the twentieth century, Elizabeth Taylor writes with a wonderful precision and grace. Her world is totally absorbing -- Antonia Fraser She's a magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike -- David Baddiel Independent
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