Book Club

imgres-3Elizabeth Taylor’s (no, not the actress, the other one) Complete Short Stories, was a recent Book Club read, writes local journalist Cheryl Markosky. I loved reading her quietly brilliant novel, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, and we thought we’d tackle her recently re-released story collection. Taylor was a bit of an enigma. On the surface she was a picture of suburban respectability, residing peacefully in Buckinghamshire after marrying in 1936, while knocking out 12 novels and four volumes of short stories. As a very private person, she destroyed most of her correspondence and papers before her early death in 1975. And, she would have loathed the idea of a biography about her. One was published, The Other Elizabeth Taylor, by Persephone Book’s Nicola Beauman a few years ago. Despite her nice net curtains and neatly trimmed hedge exterior, Taylor’s sweets manufacturer husband was a philanderer. Perhaps in retribution, she had a 12-year affair with Ray Russell, a fellow member of the High Wycombe branch of the Communist Party. Luckily, the letters she penned to him still exist. She also kept up an ongoing correspondence with the writer Robert Liddell, although he destroyed her letters, as requested. We loved her very modern (for the time) and touchingly well-observed and often sad stories. Carolyn says she was very shrewd about people, and was able to imagine what happens behind many closed doors.

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