A Wreath of Roses was the fourth book that Elizabeth Taylor wrote. It was
published in 1949. I read it in 2009 and decided to reread it recently because
I’ve become interested in the writing style of the author. I have not read the
first three that she wrote. I read another, The Soul of Kindness, in 1965, but
I’m afraid I don’t remember that one!
I read, and loved, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, just about setting it on a
pedestal. Then I read The Wedding Group and was appalled to see that the
author had used not similar, but the same verbal expressions and little
themes which had appeared in Mrs. Palfrey. It cast shadows on my sunny
view of Mrs. Palfrey because The Wedding Group was written first. So, could
it be that the fault of the author lay in the writing of Mrs. Palfrey and repeating
her lines? Had Mrs. Palfrey fallen from her pedestal?
That’s why I decided to give Taylor another chance and since I have a copy
of A Wreath of Roses, that’s what I chose to read next. (It’s not easy finding
copies of Elizabeth Taylor’s works.)
Well, I like it! I think I like it very much. It’s England, and two grown
women spend their summer back at the house of an old governess.
(As you no doubt do . . .) They have always been best friends
and love their summers together. One is now married and is
sporting a baby boy, with her husband remaining in the city.
The old governess is a spinster, has gotten settled in her ways, and
resents, a little, having a noisy baby in the house. The other woman,
Camille, is unmarried, teaches, and dreads going back to her rather
sterile life in the fall.
Enter a couple of male characters, and we have a pretty good story.
I heaved a sigh of relief when I finished the book and had found no
repeats, or intimations of themes or dialogue that would later appear
in The Wedding Group or Mrs. Palfrey.
I firmly stand with my good opinion of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont,
and will instead cast doubts on The Wedding Group and call it a book
that disappointed even though it previewed some good lines for Mrs. Palfrey.
Just don’t ever bother to read The Wedding Group and there won’t be
any issues for you.
Any author can have a near miss. The Wedding Group was the
unwelcome stepchild in my opinion. Scanty plot, poor title. I’m going
to remain steadfast in my praise for Elizabeth Taylor.
First lines are interesting. The first line of A Wreath of Roses is:
“Afternoons seem unending on branch-line stations in England
in summer time.”
I recommend the book for a nice little summer read.