Blaming by Elizabeth Taylor was a random choice from one of the many local libraries which I’m now using. It is decades since I read any books by Taylor although I remember that I really enjoyed the ones I did read.
I found this one to be a bit depressing though, possibly because it was written when the author knew that she was dying and was racing to get it finished.
I didn’t like any of the characters, which makes it difficult to really enjoy a book. Thankfully there are quite a few comic moments though.
Nick and Amy are a middle-class, middle-aged couple from London. Nick, an artist is recovering from a serious illness and they’re on a cruise. Just as Nick begins to believe that he is going to survive his illness – he dies, leaving Amy in a state of shock on her own. She decides to get off the ship at Istanbul and take his body back to London for the funeral, and a young American woman Martha, who had befriended them both decides to leave the ship too and help her with her sad task.
From then on it’s about how Amy copes with her loneliness, her family and the few friends in her life. She isn’t a people person however and to me seemed intolerant and ungrateful. The two young granddaughters are so well written, the youngest one, Isobel, is absolutely ghastly, a four year old drama queen in need of a skelp or two.
The most enjoyable part of the book was the afterword which was written by Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter Joanna Kingham. She describes her mother with such love, we could all have been doing with a mother like hers. Amongst other things she said:
Naturally I am proud of her work, but she had other talents. Her kindness, passionate desire to see people treated fairly, wonderful sense of humour, love and loyalty to her family.
It was great fun being her daughter – no one else has been able to reduce me to such a weeping state of giggles over the most ordinary, everyday events.