Themed Reviews – Written by Elizabeth

What a happy coincidence that so many excellent writers have the first name Elizabeth. Here are four that have provided exceptional delight in my reading. I have reviewed books authored by these Elizabeths many times on this blog including every novel by Elizabeth Taylor.

Below you can find links to novels by Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Strout and Elizabeth von Arnim as well as a few more suggested Elizabeths.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973)

Born in Dublin, Elizabeth Bowen lived through some of the worst times in Irish history. She remained connected to her Irish roots through Bowen Court, which she inherited but was eventually forced to sell. Although she spent a great deal of time in Bowen Court and wrote about her love of the place, she lived in England for most of her life. During the war she lived in London, in Clarence Terrace, Regent’s Park, the setting for her captivating wartime novel The Heat of the Day. She wrote 10 novels, many collections of short stories and other non-fiction books.

Early on I reviewed one of her first, The Last September, and it is the most read of all my reviews on Bookoword. Recently I reviewed her last novel, Eva Trout. I have reviewed others too: Friends and Relations, The House in Paris and The Hotel.

She was a champion of Elizabeth Taylor.

Elizabeth Taylor (1912–1975)

Elizabeth Taylor is well known for being the most under-rated author of her time. She has always had admiring followers, in the past and today. Virago has just re-issued her novels, again. Born in Reading and resident in the area all her life. The setting along the Thames is included in many of her short stories.

I have reviewed all Elizabeth Taylor’s fiction on Bookword: all 12 novels for adults, her children’s novel Mossy Trotter and her complete Short Stories. I also looked at her biography by Nicola Beauman, The Other Elizabeth Taylor.

You can find all the reviews by clicking on the category Elizabeth Taylor’s novels in the list of categories in the RH column. The review of Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is one of my most popular reviews.

Elizabeth Strout (b1956)


Born in Maine, US Elizabeth Strout has published five novels to date. I have enthusiastically reviewed two of them so far. The first won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009: Olive Kitteridge. It is included in the series of older women in fiction.

The other is My Name is Lucy Barton which was in the long list for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and for the Man Booker Prize in 2016.

Her new book Anything is Possible is on my tbr list and I will review it soon

Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941)

I am happy to recommend two novels by Elizabeth von Arnim, which I have read, and look forward to reading and sharing more of her work.

Elizabeth and her German Garden (1898) is a delightful account of a year in her garden, which she favours over her house. Despite her name the author was from Australia, but moved to live mostly in Europe. Her first husband appears in this novel as the Man of Wrath. Her love of gradens and acute observations of social customs were already evident in her first novel.

The Enchanted April (1922) is something of a fairy tale in which four unhappy women agree to spend a month in a castle on the Italian coast, despite being strangers to each other. The place and its gardens together with the generous spirit of one of the women lead to each of them finding a better future. I plan to write more about this book in August, specifically about Mrs Fisher, who is 65 and therefore a candidate for the older women in fiction series. What is proper and how it restricts women and their happiness and their men’s too, dominate the novel, written in her witty and readable style

Other Elizabeths

Here are some more suggested reads by Elizabeths:

Elizabeth Jenkins (1905–2010) The Tortoise and the Hare (1954) and Harriet (1934) (both published by Persephone Books) I have not reviewed either of these on Bookword.

Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923 –2014) The Cazulet Chronicle, Love All and many others. I have not read her novels myself, waiting for recommendations from other readers.

Elizabeth Smart (1913-1986) By Grand Central Station I Sat down and Wept (1945).

Elizabeth McKenzie (b. 1958) The Portable Veblen (2016) – shortlisted for last year’s Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize.

Over to you

That makes EIGHT Elizabeths who are worth reading. Have I missed any out?

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Filed under Books, Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor's novels, Older women in fiction

8 Responses to Themed Reviews – Written by Elizabeth

  1. Well, I’m a fan of poetry, so I would suggest:
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning – her long narrative poem Aurora Leigh, as well as her lovely Sonnets from the Portuguese
    Elizabeth Bishop
    And also, more recently:
    Elizabeth Gilbert – wasn’t a huge fan of Eat, Pray, Love but The Signature of All Things and Big Magic are better

    • Caroline

      Ah yes, I didn’t include poets, and perhaps I should have done. Thank you.
      I haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert, though I have of course heard of Eat, Pray, Love. Perhaps I should try some of her work. Is this a recommendation?
      Thanks for your contribution Marina.


  2. So glad you enjoyed The Enchanted April! It is indeed something of a fairy tale, a wonderfully uplifting read. I might need to try again with Elizabeth and Her German Garden. Sadly it didn’t flying with me when I picked it up last year, so I ended up putting it aside for another time. Maybe my timing was off?Sometimes it’s hard to tell…

    • Caroline

      My chief recollection is that Elizabeth and her Enchanted Garden demonstrated an impressive understanding of gardening, and of husbands. Perhaps you will get back to it, but there is plenty of other fiction to enjoy if you don’t.


  3. There’s Elizabeth Gaskell and Elizabeth George, who has a murder-mystery series. I like a poet named Elizabeth Daryush–she was the daughter of Robert Bridges. In your original group I find Elizabeth Taylor most enchantingly impressive.

    • Caroline

      Thank you, Natalie, for these additions to my Elizabeths.
      Of course, Elizabeth Gaskell. Thank you.
      And another poet, of whom I know nothing.
      I too really enjoy Elizabeth Taylor’s novels, she writes with great delicacy.

  4. Julia Gibbs

    You absolutely must read Elizabeth Jane Howard, though I don’t recommend beginning with the Cazalet books. I cannot recommend too highly the following: Something in Disguise/Falling/The Long View/Mr Wrong/Odd Girl Out/Getting it Right. In fact, I envy you for not having read them, and having that pleasure to come.

    • Caroline

      Hi Julia,
      thanks for this comment and your recommendations. Since I wrote that post about the Elizabeths I have read the first two volumes of the Cazalet Chronicles, and reviewed The Light Years here, on the blog, in March 2022. But I am in no hurry to continue the series, but perhaps will looks at your other suggestions instead.

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