Elizabeth Bowen – The Heat of the Day

review, novel, war, London,

1942, the war is raging in London, but Stella Rodney did not flee the city like so many others. Her son is a solder and she is in constant fear of losing him. She finds some hours of relief with Robert, her lover. When a man, Harrison, approaches her, she does not really know what to think of him. When he tells her that her lover is a double-agent handing over secrets to the enemy, her world crumbles. Harrison warns her not to tell him that he has been uncovered since this would have serious consequences. Stella does not know whom to trust anymore – just like her son who uncovered the truth about his father.
Even though the novel is labelled as a thriller of suspense, I did not really perceive it as that. Of course, we do find agents and double-agents and the bombing of London is in full course, but for me this was much more a novel about a woman in a complicated situation and the question of whom to trust, what to reveal about yourself and family secrets. I appreciated Elizabeth Bowens unagitated tone which made the novel run smoothly gave you some feeling of security before the big secrets were revealed. It is obvious that she is a master of making use of ambiguous language and of close observance – she knows that everybody has secretes and she is interested in opening Pandora’s box and letting them free.