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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Friday, 2 November 2007

Novelist Elizabth Jane Howard's enduring love

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A delightful corner shop treat yesterday and one more delicious than candy.
In the Irish Daily Mail - not available online - journalist Corinna Honan offered a long candid interview with novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, now 84 and second wife to the late poet and author, Kingsley Amis and stepmother to his famous son, Martin.
The writer of such lauded novels as The Beautiful Visit and Odd Girl Out, is described as queenly, tall and majestic and still adoring of the writing life. Howard who worked as an actress and model before she took up the pen, writes dutifully everyday and is said to be almost finished with her 14th novel.
Honan had written up a careful detailed study of Howard's memoirs in the past and also reflected on Kingsley's deep-rooted anger at his wife's sudden abandonment. Please see a much older interview in The Daily Telegraph
Now, Howard who is said to have shed off inhibitions, muses over her enduring love for Kingsley, famous among other things, for his revolutionary and highly comic novel Lucky Jim, that dealt with the British acadmic life after World War 2.
With careful introspection, she blames her former husband's sharp-tongued intolerance in public"his playful rudeness could be offensive," on the tragic effects of alcoholism and still wonders after 27 years if she did the right thing in quietly walking out of the family home, her suitcases in tow. She could no longer face his excessive drinking.
Amis would stay unforgiving of Howard, his companion for 18 years - he reportedly became vile and nasty in his rantings - and Howard regretful that she would see her husband only twice for the next 15 years.
The Irish Daily Mail offers beautiful quotes:
"I would have liked to have comforted Kingsley at the end. I would have known he looked awful and was..... but that would have made no difference to me," she tells Honan.
"I have always hoped Kingsley would forgive me for leaving him," she adds at the end. "Always. The second parting when he died was more painful than the first because there could never be a resolution."

The interview proved a genuine treat for me, the blessed fan. I had read Howard and Kingsley intensely the same time as I had devoured Doris Lessing, Margaret Drabble, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes all those years ago. The whirlpool passions of such intense reads one after another, felt like a triumph over a roller-coaster. My life and ambitions would never be the same again.


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