Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Harriet Hume (West) 34

Last week I went to London for the day, so I picked up some London-themed reading from my VMC pile. Harriet Hume by Rebecca West is set predominantly in Kensington and is subtitled "A London fantasy".

The book is about two characters, Harriet, a pianist with powers of intiution, and Arnold, an ambitious and aspiring politician who is effectively Harriet's opposite. We first meet them after they have been making love in Harriet's flat, which provided a delightful start to the novel. However, Harriet's power to read Arnold's mind means that she discovers that even though they have just had a wonderful time together, his career is far more important to him, and reluctantly she lets him walk out of her life. The pair meet again several times, 6 years later, and 20 years later. Arnold's career is now in ruins, and he blames Harriet for not sharing any intuitive knowledge of his downfall with him; he sets out to kill her...

While I quite enjoyed her Cousin Rosamund trilogy which I wrote about yesterday, I did not enjoy this one so much. The plot sounds interesting but the writing was not for me; there were many long "speeches" by the principle characters which went on for pages and pages, which just bored me. Harriet started to irritate me, and Arnold's thoughts on politics just annoyed me.

Just the one cover, above, which I rather liked as not only was it a nice painting, but it evoked the feeling of Harriet's rather haphazard living arrangements.


  1. Not a perfect book, but I did kid of enjoy it. I kept wishing they would just off together and be in love, but then he got himself into so much trouble.

    And I agree the novel had a delightful start but kind of lost its charm along the way.

  2. I loved the idea too, but found it palled after the first section. But I do love the cover - by the wonderful Vanessa Bell.

  3. Indeed - it got off to such a good start that I thought it would be a wonderful read, but was such a struggle to finish.