Book Review: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor



This book is a definite selection for “Ten Books to Take to Desert Island”.
It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I first read it in October 1971
and put a star after it in my Book Record.

A few years ago I wondered if I would still like it that much–and in August
2008 I reread it and put two stars after it.

Recently I was scouting around looking for something to read and thought of it–but
didn’t own a copy. I ordered one on ebay–see photo—an old library edition and
finished it the other night. I still love this book!

When I lived in Connecticut and my daughter in nearby Rhode Island, sometimes we’d
be driving around and would pass a nursing home. A-a-a-a-a-a-rgh! we’d think–
what if? Do we want one “in town”? or “on the water”?

You’d be surprised at the names of them! Sunset Homes, and the like. But it
will happen for more than one of us—be prepared–ha.

Well, Mrs. Palfrey is headed to a retirement home in London on a rainy Sunday
afternoon in January. It’s not a typical retirement home, but a hotel where
the management has some reduced rates for long term visitors.

The taxi driver is driving slowly because he’s not familiar
with the name of the Claremont Hotel.

“If it’s not nice, I needn’t stay,” she promises herself.

She has recently come from a stay with her married daughter, and together they
decided London would be a good location—so much to do . . .

Of course she’s a little nervous–you’d be, too–and has to weather the dinner
hour and the after dinner hours with the little group downstairs where she’ll be
the new kid on the block.

Social status is gauged by the number of visitors or outside contacts one has—
and this little recurring theme runs in and out of the book as we get acquainted
with the boarders and their idiosyncrasies. Did I spell that right?

A cute little plot runs through the novel and there are laugh out loud parts that
are ingenious. Ms. Taylor has hit the temper and tone of this delicate situation
right on the mark.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and your library will have a copy.

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1 Response to Book Review: Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

  1. Alex says:

    I keep running into this book but haven’t yet found the time or excuse to read it. In fact, I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Taylor, which I realise is an omission too far. Over to the library site to see if I can do anything about it.

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