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The Death of the Heart

Elizabeth Bowen, Author

Going in to this book I had no idea what to expect - a novel written in the fifties, and set in London in the thirties?  And I admit, I had not heard of Elizabeth Bowen until her name (specifically in reference to this book) showed up on a couple of my lists.  But I was sucked in immediately by the style, and later, by the idea.

This novel struck a nerve.  Even though I am in my twenties, I have recently come up against the same problem that Portia confronts.  Adults do not always know best, but they will always act as though they do.  This is particularly hard for observant young people.  In Portia's case, the adults do not speak to her as an equal, the maid does not like confidences, and her friend that is her age has no time for anything serious.  Portia's only real outlet is a diary she keeps of her observations.

In the end, it is the adults that end up acting like children.  Itching to know what Portia might be saying about them, they read the diary (which happens in the beginning, but Portia is not aware of it until the end) and discuss it amongst themselves.   And I have to say that I really liked the idea that the words of a sixteen year old could make a group of adults feel so uncomfortable with themselves.

This novel has a great timeless message.  We really should not underestimate anyone based on their age.  I feel like in this age of Mark Zuckerberg and other young dynamos, we should understand that, but the mentality persists.  And then people complain that the younger generations are acting more and more immature.  Don't we know that if we want all young people to act like adults, we must first start treating them as such?

On , BIBLIODISCO · A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man said:

[...] get me wrong. I'm not saying you can't be intelligent and mature at an early age (see my review on The Death of the Heart). And, I'm not questioning the importance of individualism. But, there's something preachy and [...]

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