To the North
By Elizabeth Bowen
(Anchor Books, Paperback, 9781400096558, 307pp.)
Publication Date: April 11, 2006
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A young woman’s secret love affair leads to a violent and tragic act in one of Elizabeth Bowen’s most acclaimed novels. To the North centers on two young women in 1920s London, the recently widowed Cecilia Summers and her late husband's sister, Emmeline. Drawn to each other in the wake of their loss, the two set up house together and gradually become more entwined than they know.
But the comfortable refuge they have made is "a house built on sand"; both realize it cannot last. While Cecilia, capricious and unsure if she can really love anyone, moves reluctantly toward a second marriage, Emmeline, a gentle and independent soul, is surprised to find the calm tenor of her life disturbed for the first time by her attraction to the predatory Mark Linkwater. Bowen’s psychological acuity is on full display in a conclusion that plumbs the depths of this seemingly detached young woman in a single, life-shattering moment.