I’m embarrassed at how long it’s been since I finished a book – I’m not entirely sure why it’s been so long because I haven’t had a shortage of good books to read (although a couple of them I’m less than thrilled about but I may just return those instead of starting them…) I think I wanted a complete mental break after exams and somehow that’s stretched on for months. I’ve read bits of the Last September off and on during this time but it wasn’t until last night that I sat down and finished it.
The Last September is set in Ireland during the war of Independence about which I’m also embarrassed to say I know almost nothing; in Cork, at the country estate of Sir Richard and Lady Naylor, with their nephew Lawrence and niece Lois, around whom the novel primarily focuses. Despite the Troubles, the Naylors and their assorted guests continue life as normally as they can – with dances and tennis parties. Inevitably the frequency of their mingling with the patrolling British soldiers leads to engagements with the local girls. After Lois’s insufferable friend Livvy becomes not so secretly engaged (which makes her even more annoying), Lois’s aunt is keen to quash any opportunities of Lois following suit. This is observed by two of the Naylor’s visitors: Francie Montgomery, the invalid wife of Lois’s mother’s former flame Hugo Montgomery, and Marda Norton, who seems to enchant all the men at Danielstown but ends her stay to return to her English fiancé.
The Last September is wittier than the other Elizabeth Bowen novel that I’ve read (the House in Paris) and reminded me more of Love in a Cold Climate. I enjoyed it – so have no idea why it’s taken me so long to finish ! Part of the issue may be that I’m still ploughing through Infinite Jest, which is really good but difficult to read anywhere but in my flat because of its sheer size.