A young woman’s secret love affair leads to a violent and tragic act in one of Elizabeth Bowen’s most acclaimed novels. To the North centers on two young women in 1920s London, the recently widowed Cecilia Summers and her late husband's sister, Emmeline. Drawn to each other in the wake of their loss, the two set up house together and gradually become more entwined than they know.
But the comfortable refuge they have made is "a house built on sand"; both realize it cannot last. While Cecilia, capricious and unsure if she can really love anyone, moves reluctantly toward a second marriage, Emmeline, a gentle and independent soul, is surprised to find the calm tenor of her life disturbed for the first time by her attraction to the predatory Mark Linkwater. Bowen’s psychological acuity is on full display in a conclusion that plumbs the depths of this seemingly detached young woman in a single, life-shattering moment.
About the Author
Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), an Anglo-Irish novelist, essayist, and short story writer, was born in Dublin. Her family spent winters in Dublin and summers in Bowen s Court, their ancestral home in County Cork. At the age of seven Bowen moved to England, where she married Alan Cameron in 1923. The couple divided their time between London, where Cameron held a position at the BBC, and Bowen s Court. Bowen s first book, "Encounters" (1923), was followed by several further collections of short stories and nine novels, including "The Hotel" (1927), "The Last September" (1929), "Friends and Relations" (1931), "To the North" (1932), "The Death of the Heart" (1938), and "The Heat of the Day" (1949), a tale of espionage set in London during World War II. An ardent supporter of the British war effort, Bowen volunteered her services to the British Ministry of Information during World War II, and was commissioned as an undercover agent to investigate whether the Irish public was wavering in its support for Irish neutrality. Elizabeth Bowen was awarded the CBE in 1948 and made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature in 1965. Her last novel, "Eva Trout "(1968), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
“To the North and The Death of the Heart are among the finest novels of her generation.” –V. S. Pritchett
“A lavishness of imagination is brought to bear upon small moments, and the writing is of such intensity that a character is revealed in one expression, a way of life disclosed in a single scene.” –Peter Ackroyd, Sunday Times (London)
“The worlds Elizabeth Bowen creates are so immediately absorbing . . . so fascinating, that one cannot help wanting more.” –Daily Telegraph