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.