The Death Of The Heart


Today, I have been mostly watering plants.


Nicotiana now soars aloft.

Clematis Diversifolia Hendersonii

Several of our clematises, such as Diversifolia Hendersonii

Clematis Queen Mother

and Queen Mother in the front garden,


and Duchess of Albany on the Rose Garden pergola bear hats of invisible pixies frolicking and turning somersaults in the sunshine.

Lily 1

This lily has taken two years to bloom.

Lily 2

Many, like this one, live just one day.

Bee on nasturtium

Bees are drawn to our nasturtiums.


The kniphofias have poked their way up through the soil,


as have the red hot dahlias in the New Bed. The first is Bishop of Llandaff. I’m not sure about the others.

View from Shady Path

This view from the Shady Path encompasses


Margery’s hollyhocks.

While I was watering, Ronan was fixing our boiler, not that we will need heating any time soon.

The Death Of The Heart001

This is the blurb on the back cover of

The Death Of The Heart002

which I finished reading this evening.

When my blogging friend, Lisa learned that I was embarking on this novel she remembered that when she had read it, a long time ago, she had found it sad. I would trust Lisa’s judgement ahead of the book’s publicists.

If this is a story of adolescent love in the thirties, I am glad my teenage years were in the fifties. In my view it was more a tale of isolation and loneliness. I agree with the ‘Passion, misunderstanding…..’ paragraph above, but if this an example of ‘sublime sense of comedy’ it is so black as to be invisible to me. Remind me not to try The Orchid Trilogy.

Having said all this, I must concede that Bowen ‘is a major writer’. The book is well constructed; the prose is elegant; she has a keen eye for detail; and she develops character well. But does she like any of her creations?

Finally, Augustus John’s model has far more spirit about her than the unfortunate Portia.

This evening Jackie enjoyed a meal out with her friend, Pauline (not our NZ one); and I dined sumptuously on scrambled egg on toast and Doom Bar.


  1. I am having a bit of trouble with a couple of your blurred backgrounds, Derrick, specifically the clematis ones…the blurring is only just enough to pull my eyes toward it, and then to frustrate because I am straining to see it and not succeeding; my eyes keep jumping from there to your focal point and back. Perhaps it’s just me…my poor peepers are plus three-score and ten now, after all… 🙂 It didn’t happen, on the other hand, as I enjoyed your shot of the bee on the nasturtium or those beautiful hollyhocks, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    1. Sorry about the trouble, Cynthia. Perhaps the problem is with those where the blurring is the greater part of the image. I’ll try to attend to that. Thank you

  2. Don’t know if it is wordpress or my computer, but it was very slow, in opening the photos. They are lovely Derrick. I liked the dahlias most.

    Have a lovely weekend my friend.

  3. Beautiful flowers,,i like those lilies i have them on my garden bebore but i have to get rid of them cause the grow like a weeds and i have a small yard,,,ohh we call them DIANA,,coz princess Diana’s favourite flower before,,,

  4. I don’t know if you saw my earlier question, Derrick, but do your lilies bloom on a particular schedule or do you force them? My lilies were done by June except for the daylilies which decided to bloom now. (I had planted hostas in their bed because they appeared dead last year, but they came back like some orange ghosts.)

  5. Beautiful photographs as usual. I loved the Clematises, especially the small one which is crystal sharp against the blurred background! Nice review of the book too

  6. Another heavenly tour of your garden, imagining the scents! I checked my bookshelf and I have no Bowen left; all culled at some point. I always liked Elizabeth Taylor better (Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont; The Soul of Kindness), where the darkness was indeed lightened by humor. I’m not sure why I associate the two–time they wrote or time I read them. Another lovely chubby bee!

  7. I’m intrigued by the book and will seek it out somehow. I had not heard of her … I can believe it is a sad tale since I think that captive was the word for so many adolescent girls of that era (my mother has an expression BT and AT – ‘Before Teenage’ and ‘After Teenage’ by which she means that there was no such thing as a teen when she was growing up and therefore you were neither child nor adult and there was really no concession made for the muddle and madness that the seething mass of raging hormones induces in some or other measure in us all.

  8. I’ve always been wary of book reviewing because I don’t always seem to be reading the same book as other reviewers. I also find that humour is a difficult subject – I, for instance, can think of nothing funnier than the angst of a teenager. However, I suppose that’s just me. 😉

    Your lilies are looking great – I really should plant some for next year.

  9. Derrick, the bee in flower is simply my favorite delightful part of this. I enjoy books like this, love, romance and drama with the historical details thrown in. Have an amazing weekend, dear friend and hello to the gardener and chef of the house! xo

  10. After a few weeks away, my garden is a sad mess, perhaps a metaphor for other things but seeing your garden’s delights makes me happy. I read a bundle of Elizabeth Bowen in my early twenties when I believed that reading good literature would improve my mind. Damned if I can remember any of them now! These days I read what I like and occasionally torment myself with “improving” literature but find, like you, that their depths are so black I don’t get it.

  11. Perfect way to start my weekend Derrick, a walk through your garden. The clarity of your shots is stunning, making me swoon over the luscious colors. Hats off to you and Jackie. I’m on my way out the door to work in my garden, no comparison.

      1. Just getting started to go out and face the heat and gardens (100 today, feel like melting just like the flowers!).

  12. I, too, just finished “Death of the Heart.” Very well written, although I sometimes found myself stumbling over the syntax of her sentences. Nevertheless, the story pulled me in, and I was so afraid for Portia, Your question is a good one. Did Bowen like any of the characters? None of them are what you would call loveable, but I think her sympathies were with Portia, who was certainly a stupid girl but one that most women could identify with. After all, most of us have been stupid at some point when we were young, and usually over a boy. Too me, the class issues were a little baffling, and the whole story seemed like an iceberg, with just the tip showing and much that was implied.

      1. No coincidence at all 😉 When you announced, a while ago, that you were reading “Death of the Heart,” I decided I had to give it a read, too. When it comes to literary fiction, we have similar tastes.

  13. Watering seems to have been a never-ending task this week – I imagine it has been even hotter at your end of the country. What a wonderful shot of the bee in the nasturtium – they really do love nasturtiums!

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