Blaming is Elizabeth Taylor’s last novel, published posthumously in 1976. When Amy is suddenly widowed whilst holidaying in Istanbul, she is grateful for the help of her new acquaintance, Martha. However, reinstalled in her middle-class, middle-England life, Amy finds this eccentric, over-emphatic woman difficult to shake off.
In her trademark elegant prose, Taylor conducts a microcosmic exploration of life in middleclass England and its stifling domesticity. With sharp-eyed insight, she expertly captures Amy’s gradual withdrawal from life-as-she-knew-it as her world becomes increasingly unrecognizable. The relationship between Amy and Martha is fascinating, and always with a whiff of danger about it, as if at any moment circumstances might spin irrecoverably out of control. The novel reminds me a little of a childhood favourite of mine, Anne Fine’s The Tulip Touch, as well as a Julia Crouch’s chilling debut novel, Cuckoo; both worth checking out if you are unfamiliar. Meditative and faintly disturbing, Blaming is certainly a worth-while read.