THE LITTLE GIRLS by Elizabeth Bowen


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It is many years, close to thirty, since Elizabeth Bowen wrote her best remembered books, The House in Paris and The Death of the Heart, both of which were rather Jamesian in the worlds within worlds they explored. This new book may call to mind The Beast in the Jungle, in its expectant vigil and the devastating revelation at its conclusion- ""There, being nothing was what you were frightened of all the time"". On its own, it is a discreetly tantalizing story, a parabola of time present and past when three women return some fifty years later to a childhood scene. The instigator now, as she was then, is Dinah Delacroix, artlessly attractive, somewhat offhand, even a little fey. The museum she is establishing in a cave as a ""clue for posterity"" has its past in Dinah's. At eleven, she had had a penchant for burying things, and with two friends, Clare and Sheila, had interred some secret belongings in a coffer. Impulsively contacting Clare and Sheila whom she has not seen since, the reunion, uneasy at best, stirs many memories and latent resentments, and the revenants make their anticipatory-apprehensive return to the chest which lies buried in a school garden.... A disconcerting, elliptical book of considerable charm. It has a special, subtle sortilege.

ISBN: 1400034795
Publisher: Knopf