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Colegate, Isobel

life country house

(British, 1931– )

Isobel Colegate's novels offer a view of life that is often rather bleak, but richly ironic. Her best-known work is probably The Shooting Party (1980), a brilliant dissection of Edwardian manners and morals, with a country house weekend eerily treated as a dry run for the First World War. Winter Journey (1995) is about two very different siblings: the likeable but rather hopeless Alfred, who has done nothing very much with his life and has now settled down to a premature old age in a shabby house in the country, and his sister, Edith, a bustling proprietor of a language school, and a former MP to boot. Colegate has an exact eye for the significant minutiae of English conversations and behaviour, for the things left unsaid; and in this novel especially, she displays an acute sense of what it means to grow old.

Barbara Pym, Penelope Lively  CH

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