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Review: Every Eye, by Isobel English


Pages: 119

Original date of publication: 1956

My edition: 2007 (Persephone)

Why I decided to read: browsing the Persephone catalogue

How I acquired my copy: Persephone subscription, June 2010

As I was browsing my TBR shelves for something to take with me on a business trip (traveling theme and all of that), my eye (no pun intended) was drawn to Every Eye, a slim novella about a woman who marries a much younger man and takes a holiday to Ibiza.

The novel isn’t so much about the holiday as it is about the journey, and it’s a novel that is “based on the premise that life is lived forwards but understood backwards” (from the preface written by Isobel English’s husband, Neville Braybrooke). There are many flashbacks to Hatty’s affair with a much older man, and her relationship with her step-aunt that illuminate certain things about Hatty. There’s not much action per se in this book, but there are some absolutely gorgeous descriptions of the scenery as Hatty and Stephen travel along that make me want to book a flight to Ibiza right now!

I am generally not a novella reader; I prefer thick, juicy novels with lots of plot and character development. But this book, for all its shortness, packs a lot into it. You can see Hatty’s development as a person quite clearly, from her unsuitable liaison with an older man to her wiser marriage to Stephen. The novel illustrates to perfection the modern saying that hindsight is 20/20. The tone of the book is very cold, and I thought going into it that I would hate the narrator for being so detached; but the juxtaposition between Hatty’s coldness and the warmth of Ibiza really works for this story.

This is Persephone no. 18. Endpaper above.

Comments

Teresa said…
I read this for Persephone week last year (after getting a copy in the shop while on holiday in London the week before). I really enjoyed it. The descriptions and the character development are amazing!
The descriptions of the Balearic island are so evocative! Every Eye is gentle but thought-provoking at the close. I agree about the juxtaposition between the sunny backdrop at Hatty's relationship with Cynthia.

Thank you for joining us for Persephone Reading Weekend! Enjoy.
I love novellas -- and this one sounds like the perfect thing to take on a long weekend! It's on my TBR. Thanks for your great review.
I really enjoyed your review and I think it is superbly written. I want to read this now - it seems so pertinent. Another for my TBR list! Thank you :-)
ooh could this be a perfect gift for a friend who loves Persephone and is going to Ibiza for her honeymoon? I'd not heard of this before I shall now find out more. Tnhank you.
irisonbooks said…
I did not know there was such a thing as a Persephone subscription. I should remember that for a birthday present or something. Sometimes I really need a shorter read and this one sounds perfect for that.

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