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Description - The Evening of the Holiday by Shirley Hazzard

Passionate undercurrents sweep in and out of this eloquent novel about a love affair in the summer countryside in Italy and its inevitable end. It takes place in a setting of pastoral beauty during a time of celebration -- a festival. Sophie, half English, half Italian, meets Tancredi, an Italian who is separated from his wife and family. In telling the story of their love affair, author Shirley Hazzard punctures the placid surface of polite Italian society to reveal the intense yearnings and surprising responses in sophisticated people caught up in emotions they do not always understand.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781844082179
ISBN-10: 1844082172
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 126mm x 11mm)
Pages: 160
Imprint: Virago Press Ltd
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 7-Sep-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Book Review: Evening of the Holiday by Shirley Hazzard - Reviewed by (10 Apr 2012)

The Evening of the Holiday is the first novel by Australian author Shirley Hazzard and was written in 1966. It is set in Tuscany and the main characters are Tancredi, a Sicilian architect recently separated from his wife and children, Sophie, half-English, half-Italian, on holiday in Tuscany and Luisa Brandi, Sophie’s aunt. Tancredi and Sophie first meet at his sister’s place. It is an inauspicious beginning to their love affair: he doesn’t think much of her looks; she finds him not at all attractive. Tancredi comes across as vain and sexist; Sophie goes from rejecting his advances to resigned acceptance of the fact they will be involved, tinged with apprehension. They both know that, as there is no divorce in Italy, any future for their love affair is impossible. Hazard uses rich descriptive passages to set the tone and mood; she is able to evoke the feel of the Tuscan summer with consummate ease. There is some wonderful prose: “Charity, talent, love were real, perhaps only to the sufferer and the beneficiary, and abstractions in the eyes of others”. Hazard also paints some marvellous pictures: “Seen together, these relatives, with their prominent, attenuated features and light colouring, resembled nothing so much as a group of collie dogs, lifting heir muzzles to greet one another and twitching their fine-boned shoulders or shifting about in their delicate, nervous way.” As with her later novels, I found Hazzard’s characters hard to like or care about (except, perhaps, Luisa), but she does manage to convey the atmosphere well.


Author Biography - Shirley Hazzard

Shirley Hazzard is author of the awardwinning novel The Great Fire (Virago 2004). Her other novels include Greene on Capri, a memoir of Graham Greene, and five works of fiction, including The Transit of Venus, winner of the 1981 National Book Critics' Award.

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