Elizabeth Taylor, A Wreath of Roses (1949)… and a trip to the library

Let’s begin on a personal note: Saturday was our first trip to the local library with Baby S in tow… While I am certain children have to start a literary education early, it seems that 3 weeks old is maybe too early… After a few calm minutes rolling among bookshelves in the pram, Baby S. decided he had enough of these strange things and asked for a change of air… When I say “ask”, you can imagine that he has already pretty strong arguments to make me yield soon. Of course, I just had time to give back borrowed books and not to take fresh ones (sigh). Baby S. seems to be more of a outdoorsy type for the moment.

So, before I throw myself into a guilt-trip and speculate if books are a lost cause for this kid, I’ll conclude on a more positive note:

  • go to the library with a list of books in mind and check on the internet database beforehand if they are on shelves (so it’ll take instants to find them even if Baby S. howls needs fresh air).
  • don’t be afraid of the librarian’s glare while you drop borrowed books on the desk as fast as possible and flee: no, I haven’t stolen anything, I’m trying to preserve the library’s silence and he should appreciate it.
  • if library trips become less frequent than before, it’s a great opportunity to read all those unread books on our own shelves, or ask for more from Bookmooch.

Taylor’s Wreath of Roses weren’t what I expected at all. I’d read Angel and loved her biting sarcasm and wit, here the tone is melancholy if not downright depressed. Three friends, Liz, Camilla and Frances, used to spend summer vacations together every year (Frances used to be Liz and Camilla’s teacher or governess), but as time goes by, they seem to drift apart from one another, or maybe their friendship was a pure chance encounter and not based on anything deep. Since the previous year, Liz has married with a minister and got a child, she seems lost and frail (maybe baby-blues?); Frances who loves painting, kind of lost her momentum and made only very dark paintings, realizing her own mortality; Camilla, single and bitter, seems bored to death by her life working in a school. Most of the story is told through her point of view, as she throws herself in the arms of an adventurer, an unknown man met by chance at the train station.

The novel opens with the suicide of a stranger on the rail tracks and ends… well, in a kind of muted tragedy. Every woman seems deeply unhappy, but maybe it’s only because Camilla sees them through her own depressed perspective. The conclusion seems to be about loneliness and the impossibility to really get to know people around you, which is far too blue for me now. People change, and while you can’t expect your friends to stay forever like they used to be, it’s no reason to stay alone. I couldn’t really relate with any of them three, but I did like the character of Morland Beddoes, a quiet man who fell in love with Frances’ paintings one day when seeing one by chance in a gallery, and who comes to meet her at last after exchanging letters with her for years. He seems like a nondescript man, but reveals a nice, open-minded heart that gives good pieces of advice for those three lost women.

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3 thoughts on “Elizabeth Taylor, A Wreath of Roses (1949)… and a trip to the library

  1. Oh I remember all kinds of abbreviated trips because my baby ‘asked’ to leave – it’s not book specific!! Don’t worry – give it a few months and the baby will be utterly transformed in public places and full of curiosity. Then you’ll get to wander round stores and libraries in perfect peace (until lunchtime…).

  2. Pingback: My BookClub Reviews » Blog Archive » A Wreath of Roses - Elizabeth Taylor

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