Shirley Hazzard, one of the names one associates with a select group of female writers on the last century, died last week. She is remembered for her austere sentences that speak of another era. One thinks of Gertrude Bell, Penelope Fitzgerald, Margaret Atwood and Sybille Bedford. The following paragraph by Rachel Cook from the Guardian struck the right note:
Much as I wish I was wrong about this, my sense is that too few people have read Shirley Hazzard, who died last week at the age of 85. But then, even in her lifetime, she was a writer who kept disappearing from view. After publishing her second novel, The Bay of Noon, in 1970, it was a decade before she finished her third, The Transit of Venus, and a further 23 years before she delivered her fourth and last, The Great Fire. In between, she produced very little: a couple of books about the United Nations, and a short (and brilliant) memoir of her friend, Graham Greene.