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For Hazzard and her husband, both insatiable readers, the Naples of Pliny, Gibbon, and Auden is constantly alive to them in the present. And in "The Ancient Shore", Hazzard is our guide, as we encounter Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and of course Goethe, but her concern is primarily with the Naples of our own time -- often violently unforgiving to innocent tourists, but able to transport the visitor who attends patiently to its rhythms and history. A town shadowed by both the symbol and the reality of Vesuvius can never fail to acknowledge the essential precariousness of life -- nor, as the lover of Naples discovers, the human compassion, generosity, and friendship that are necessary to sustain it.
National Book Award winner, an extraordinary love story set in the immediate aftermath of WWII, set in China, England and Japan
The Transit of Venus is considered Shirley Hazzard's most brilliant novel. It tells the story of two orphan sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, as they leave Australia to start a new life in post-war England. What happens to these young women -- seduction and abandonment, marriage and widowhood, love and betrayal -- becomes as moving and wonderful and yet as predestined as the transits of the planets themselves. Gorgeously written and intricately constructed, Hazzard's novel is a story of place: Sydney, London, New York, Stockholm; of time: from the fifties to the eighties; and above all, of women and men in their passage through the displacements and absurdities of modern life.
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