Blog tour: The Shadowy Third

Welcome to the blog tour for The Shadowy Third by Julia Parry.

More about the book…

A sudden death in the family delivers Julia a box of love letters. Dusty with age, they reveal an illicit affair between the celebrated twentieth-century Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen and Humphry House – Julia’s grandfather.

So begins an intriguing quest to discover and understand this affair, one with profound repercussions for Julia’s family, not least for her grandmother, Madeline. This is a book about how stories are told in real life, in fiction and in families.

Inspired by Bowen’s own obsession with place and memory, Julia travels to all the locations in the letters – from Kolkata to Cambridge and from Ireland to Texas. The reader is taken from the rarefied air of Oxford in the 1930s, to the Anglo-Irish Big House, to the last days of Empire in India and on into the Second World War. The fascinating unpublished correspondence, a wealth of family photographs, and a celebrated supporting cast that includes Isaiah Berlin and Virginia Woolf add further richness to this unique work.

The Shadowy Third opens up a lost world, one with complex and often surprising attitudes to love and sex, work and home, duty and ambition, and to writing itself.

More about the author…

Julia Parry was brought up in West Africa and educated at St Andrews and Oxford. She teaches English literature and has worked as a writer and photographer for a variety of publications and charities. She lives in London and Madrid. This is her first book.

And now, my thoughts…

How did this book end up in my hands? I was extremely lucky and received a beautiful proof copy so that I could join this blog tour.

Was it a page-turner? First things first: before I started reading this book, I was aware of Elizabeth Bowen as a famous novelist but that was the extent of my knowledge. With this in mind, reading this book was like getting to know her from one of the most personal points of view that you can think of. And once I got going, there was no stopping me. This is a fascinating insight into the history of a family but also into the society of the time.

Did the book meet my expectations? Absolutely, yes. There were a number of things that made me want to read this book… it’s based on private correspondence, it embraces important historical times and exciting places, it revolves around literary figures (and it even mentions my beloved Virginia Woolf!). All this are just ingredients though. You need something to bind all of these together to make something precious and Julia Parry has definitely achieved it, with class and poignancy.

Three words to describe it. Well-researched. Captivating. Moving.

Do I like the cover? I do. It’s very elegant.

Have I read any other books by the same author? This is the author’s first book and, as well written and researched as it is, I would love to see what she does next.

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