Monday, 21 September 2009

Pillion riders (Taylor) 520

Another Elizabeth Taylor...or rather Elisabeth Russell Taylor. I didn't know that this Virago author existed, although I'm familiar with THE Elizabeth Taylor (which for me is the writer and not the actress), so I was most amused to discover that there was another one.

Pillion riders is the story of Opal, married off at the start of the book by her father to one of his elderly business colleagues, since he despairs of ever getting her married since she is unable to have children. Helmut her new husband provides her with a luxurious life in London and she acts as his companion on weekends and evenings, but immediately one feels that Opal is missing something. Helmut takes her to Paris on a business trip, and immediately Opal falls in love with Jean-Claude, a young French composer. She leaves Helmut and embarks on a bohemian life with Jean-Claude. Unfortunately life is not all "happily ever after"; Jean-Claude likes men as well as women, and is not very successful with his compositions. Eventually Opal decides to leave him and returns to England.

The title Pillion Riders refers to a scene very early on, when Helmut and Opal have been out for dinner with his friends and Jean-Claude in Paris. Rather than returning to the hotel with Helmut, Opal opts to have a tour of Paris on the back of Jean-Claude's motorbike, and she ends up returning to his apartment and his bed.

I reasonably enjoyed this novel, and was intrigued to see what would happen and whether or not Jean-Claude and Opal's relationship would work out, but I'm afraid the original Elizabeth Taylor is still for me THE Elizabeth Taylor. I suppose the purpose of this story is that often in novels one can run away and follow dreams, but actually dreams do not always work out.

Although Elisabeth Russell Taylor has written a number of novels, only this one and one other, Mother Country, which also awaits me, have been published as VMCs. As they are comparatively recent re-publications, i will be interested to see whether Virago bring out any more. So, only the one cover - see above.


  1. So you're telling me that there's ANOTHER The Other Elizabeth Taylor?! Ha. This title seems familiar to me.

    By the by, I noticed earlier that Virago are reissuing Katherine Mansfield's The Aloe next month but I can't find a cover...

  2. Yes, I was most tickled to find out about ANOTHER The Other...

    Have Virago released The Aloe before? Is that a novella/novel/short story?

  3. Yup, a green one with a familiar cover (the painting of Mansfield on her Persephone author page). LibraryThing has photo of the cover. Not entirely sure of content; a collection of her short stories is all I know.