Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Named by the Guardian as one of 'the 100 best novels,' and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont is a humorous and compassionate look at friendship between an old woman and a young man from a 'magnificent...writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike' (David Baddiel, Independent)

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 unlikely friendship with an impoverished young writer, Ludo, who sees her as inspiration for his novel.

'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' -Robert McCrum 'the 100 best novels', Guardian

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844083213
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 04/28/2006
Series: Virago Modern Classics , #83
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 148,015
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

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'.

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Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
LyzzyBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Ali¿s)I gulped this down on the train between Birmingham and Reading; yes, I did read every word, but I have read this before, although I¿m not sure when. Mrs Palfrey, a fine and formidable woman who can look like a Colonel in drag, is installing herself at a residential hotel as the novel opens. She observes the other inmates: pain-wracked Mrs Arbuthnot, brave Mrs Burton, fighting age until the end (and at the Day we were alerted to the fact that she shares a surname with the person who to us, surely, is the ¿other¿ Elizabeth Taylor), and the others. Mrs Palfrey hopes for a visit from her grandson but when she meets a rather Iris Murdochian young impoverished writer (with yet another feckless mother), she brings him into her life ¿ and into some degree of deception. Horrors, of course, ensue. A cast of brilliantly drawn characters seen in various environments including a scream of a party, each with their horrors and their redeeming features. Although the subject matter is depressing, the book isn¿t, in an odd way that is testament to the power of the author.
rainpebble on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just a comment: I loved Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont and give it 5+ stars but my poor old heart was broken at the end. I didn't want it to end like that but it certainly was in keeping with the beautiful story. Mrs Palfrey's daughter, Elizabeth; what a bloody cold hearted bitch!~! Elizabeth Taylor writes like an angel. Just a really lovely story.
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Markedly both delightful and depressing. Taylor's attention to detail and her gentle depiction of these characters was lovely to read, but at the same time, the loneliness and quiet despair of the residents of the Claremont was painful, sometimes almost to the point where I didn't really want to continue with the book. I was also slightly annoyed--maybe not with these particular characters, because Taylor paints them so sympathetically that I can hardly be cross with them, but maybe just in general--at the sort of "waiting to die" attitude of Mrs Palfrey and the others. I can't quite imagine getting to my old age and suddenly not being genuinely interested in something--the Claremonters seem only to do things (reading, knitting, playing games) because they pass the time. Perhaps this reaction is telling--surely no one expects, at twenty-nine, that she will spend the last years of her life alone, lonely, and bored. Perhaps it is precisely that annoyance in the young with such an attitude in the old that makes Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont so poignant.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Palfrey checks into the Claremont Hotel. Her next stopwill be a nursing home and everyone knows what is after that. Mrs.Palfrey has had a small life, with few friends, but while she is at theClaremont, she makes some of the best friends of her life, including afriendship with a young man.
raidergirl3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First of all, it's not that Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor the author, 1912 - 1975, was British and wrote twelve novels and four short story collections. This Elizabeth Taylor has written a bittersweet story about aging, and loneliness, and finding friendship.Mrs Palfrey first came to the Claremont Hotel on a Sunday afternoon in January. Who goes to a hotel to live? Widows and widowers of a certain class and money, whose family won't take them in. Laura Palfrey and the others who live year round in the Claremont have their own appearances and habits to keep up, but they are in many ways just in a holding pattern, waiting to be moved to a nursing home, as they can't die in the hotel but are hanging on to their independence. Laura meets Ludo, a young writer, when she falls one day outside his home. She sees in him the attention her own grandson doesn't pay her, and he sees in her a character for his novel. They develop a friendship of sorts. Early on, it made me a little nervous that Ludo would be mean to Mrs Palfrey, or use her, and I didn't want anything too terrible to happen to Mrs Palfrey. It wasn't that she was too sweet, because she was human with good and bad qualities, but I liked her, her mix of cautiousness and recklessness as she navigated her new life.I call this bittersweet because it was both. There were some amusing scenes, but the underlying sadness in the lives of the characters is always present. The life they construct in the hotel, with their rituals and the inevitable hierarchy of social standing were so clearly written. There have been new releases of many of Taylor's novels that I would like to read. I enjoyed her writing style and characterizations. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont has also been made into a movie starring Joan Plowright.
dianaleez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A depressing view of the end of life. If it's this bad, I'm skipping it.
millhold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fabulous little book! I loved every bit of it. Marvelous characters, settings, and situations. What a treat!
verbafacio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremeont is a funny and sad look at the lives of older people. Mrs Palfrey moves into the Claremont Hotel, at which a begrudging manager offers reduced rates to elderly people, to spend her last years. There she finds a handful of other seniors, each of whom deals with his or her reduced circumstances in a different way -- dirty jokes, constant twittering, self agrandisement, alcohol. The characters aren't particularly sympathetic, but it's hard not to be drawn in.
postcuspbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A penetrating look at how elderly English ladies think. Beautiful writing and observation. Sad, but she never loses her dignity or our respect - unlike some of the other characters.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mrs. Palfrey is an elderly widow who moves in to the Claremont Hotel, a stop-gap between home and a nursing home. One day she has a fall and is assisted up by Ludo Myers, a young writer whom she quickly befriends. It is a very unlikely friendship, but one with many possibilities. Mrs. Palfrey has a rather detestable grandson, and with the help of a little white lie, Ludo steps into that role. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a sweet, quiet story of friendship and of growing old, contrasting Mrs. Palfrey¿s situation with that of Ludo¿s.Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a short, easy read, but its emotional impact is strong. Although Mrs. Palfrey¿s real family, with the daughter up in Scotland and the unlikeable grandson, seems to have abandoned her, it¿s amazing how she¿s managed to form a bond with someone else¿someone who genuinely cares about her and sees her as surrogate family. This book proves the trite saying that your real family is the one that you make for yourself; but in this case, it really is true, since both Mrs. Palfrey and Ludo look for, and find, love from each other.I loved Taylor¿s descriptions of Mrs. Palfrey¿s companions at the Claremont: Mr. Osmond, who writes daily letters to newspapers; Mrs. Arbuthnot with her arthritis; and others. Morbidly, it seems as though they¿re all waiting for death to come, but each seems to be making the most of it (witness Mr. Osmond¿s ridiculous marriage proposal). It¿s interesting how of all the residents at the Claremont, there¿s only one man. The theme of aging and death could have been overwhelming, but in this novel, it¿s not. Instead, there¿s a sweet, hopeful tone to the novel. This is a well-written novel with some enduring, thought-provoking themes, and one I enjoyed greatly. I¿m looking forward to reading more Elizabeth Taylor in the future.
hazelk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This has been one of the best reads of the year so far.The prose is beautifully judged and there's not a redundant word. Mrs Palfrey is a sympathetic figure and one feels for her amongst these rather lost souls at the Claremont. It's not maudlin or sentimental but perfectly well judged.
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This engaging, character-driven novel is the story of an elderly widow who moves into a residential hotel in London. Mrs. Palfrey herself is a certain type -- the widow of a British colonial administrator, "a tall woman with big bones and a noble face, dark eyebrows and a neatly folded jowl. She would have made a distinguished-looking man and, sometimes, wearing evening dress, looked like some famous general in drag." (p. 2) Being English is very important to her: "When she was young, it had semed that nearly all the world was pink on her school atlas -- 'ours', in fact. Nearly all ours! she had thought." (p. 104) The other hotel residents -- all but one, female -- are each eccentric in their own way. Unable to live completely on their own, but not yet in need of extensive medical care, the residents' lives revolve around daily minutiae: the lunch and dinner menus, trips to the library, and so on. Mrs. Palfrey often fills time by stretching even the smallest errand into an all-morning affair. Sometimes, there are visitors: children, grandchildren, or cousins. It's quite poignant; most of these visits are obligatory, and it shows. Shortly after her arrival at The Claremont, Mrs. Palfrey has a fall while out for a walk, and is found and cared for by a young writer named Ludovic. They strike up a friendship, and Ludo poses as her grandson when visiting The Claremont. While she also develops relationships with some of the other residents, it is Ludo who brings her real happiness. Published in 1971, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont was Elizabeth Taylor's second-to-last novel (she died in 1975). It made the Booker Prize shortlist and is very much in keeping with Virago Press' commitment to "enduring works by women novelists." A great way to close out my reading year!