Publisher: Vintage - first published by Alfred A. Knopf
Length: 209 pages
About: Old father’s remarriage causes chaos
Style: 1st person
Where: US (Memphis, Nashville & New York)
During the twilight of a Sunday afternoon in March, New York book editor Phillip Carver receives an urgent phone call from each of his older, unmarried sisters. They plead with Phillip to help
avert their widower father's impending remarriage to a younger woman. Hesitant to get embroiled in a family drama, he reluctantly agrees to go back south, only to discover the true motivation behing
his sisters' concern. While there, Phillip is forced to confront his domineering siblings, a controlling patriarch, and flood of memories from this troubled
The courtship and remarriage of an old widower is always made more difficult when middle-aged children are involved -- especially when there are unmarried daughters.
The present resonates with the past, but history is not a sort of monosodium glutamate, an instant, all-purpose intensifier of experience. PETER TAYLOR'S fiction is full of rewards. It is hard for
a reviewer to do justice to the pleasures of understatement.
New York Times Marilynne Robinson 19th October 1986
Not so good:
If it is a familiar story, it is one that is well crafted, except in the introduction of a family friend, Alex, who seems intended to act as some sort of measure of normality. He fails both as a
character and as a device. The novel is also too drawn out to maintain the intensity of the incestuous and murderous childhood longings, which are so successfully drawn behind the middle-aged
facades; and the pace slows too far to sustain the final ironies.
The Times, Gillian Greenwood, 16th October 1987
About the author
Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor (January 8, 1917 - November 2, 1994)
Taylor spent his early childhood in Nashville. The family moved to St. Louis in 1926 when Taylor's father, lawyer Matthew Hillsman Taylor, became president of the General American Life
Insurance Company. In St. Louis, Taylor attended the Rossman School and St. Louis Country Day School. In 1932, the family moved to Memphis, where his father established a law practice. Taylor
graduated from Central High School in Memphis in 1935.
He wrote his first published piece while there, an interview with actress Katharine Cornell. After a gap year in which he traveled to England, Taylor enrolled at Southwestern College (now
Rhodes College) in Memphis in 1936, studying under the critic Allen Tate. Tate encouraged Taylor to transfer to Vanderbilt University, which he later left to continue studying with the great American
critic and poet John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, along with the poet Robert Lowell.