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Isabel Colegate (1931–2023)

Autor(a) de The Shooting Party

16+ Works 1,195 Membros 16 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Isabel Colegate is the author of thirteen previous books, including the novels The Shooting Party, The Summer of the Royal Visit and, most recently, Winter Journey. She is married with three children and lives near Bath


Obras de Isabel Colegate

The Shooting Party (1980) 487 cópias, 6 resenhas
The Orlando Trilogy (1984) 95 cópias, 2 resenhas
Winter Journey (1995) 94 cópias
Statues in a Garden (1964) 83 cópias, 1 resenha
Deceits of Time (1988) 53 cópias
Three Novels (1983) 35 cópias
The Blackmailer (1958) 22 cópias
Orlando King (1968) 8 cópias
Agatha (1973) 3 cópias
A Man of Power (1960) 2 cópias
The Great Occasion 1 exemplar(es)

Associated Works

The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two (2017) — Contribuinte — 75 cópias, 3 resenhas
The Shooting Party [1985 film] (1985) — Original book — 26 cópias
Slightly Foxed 39: Around the Fire (2013) — Contribuinte — 20 cópias


Conhecimento Comum

Nome de batismo
Colegate, Isabel Diane (born)
Briggs, Isabel Diane (married)
Data de nascimento
Data de falecimento
Local de nascimento
Lincolnshire, England, UK
Locais de residência
Lincolnshire, England, UK (birth)
Norfolk, England, UK
Runton Hill School
literary critic
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1981)
Pequena biografia
Isabel Colegate left school at the age of 16. She went to work as a secretary in the small literary agency of flamboyant publisher Anthony Blond; he later published her books and helped in her successful writing career. Her novels often deal with the decline of the English aristocracy, the disintegration of class structures, and social change in the years immediately before and after World War I.



The subject of this book is of particular interest to me. Having lived a fairly solitary life and years alone in mountain wilds, I’ve been described by others as a hermit or recluse. I quite like the label and use it as an anti-definitional job-title on LinkedIn. Ironically, in 18th century England, there were contracted jobs on offer for hermits to live in grottos or fabricated rustic hermitages, as a form of garden ornament.
Charles Hamilton wanted a hermit who would ‘continue I the Hermitage for seven years. Where he would be provided with a Bible, optical glasses, a mat for his feet, a hassock for his pillow, an hour-glass for his time piece, water for his beverage and food from the house. He must wear a camlet robe, and never, under any circumstances, must he cut his hair, beard or nails, stray beyond the limits of Mr Hamilton’s grounds, or exchange one word with the servant.’ If he lasted the full seven years he would be paid 700 guineas; if he broke the rules or left earlier he got nothing. (p.187)
Jobs aside, there is a lot to say about the joys and perils of solitude. Despite Colegate’s considerable literary erudition (I have read many of the books she mentions), those looking for any critical examination of how a solitary life might be lived well, will not find much in this book. Nor will they find much about the ancient Chinese intellectual tradition of retreating from cities to the mountains and following a simple, austere pursuit of the three perfections (calligraphy, painting, poetry).

What you will find is a kind of Eurocentric (including USA), certainly British roundup of people who have been notable recluses; often unkempt or characterised by religious zeal, filth, suffering, and/or madness.
The celebrity hermit a modern phenomenon, seems to have escaped the tolerance, let alone respect, accorded to other species of solitary, being regarded instead with indignation and outrage. The reasoning behind this must be thought that no one would be a writer or an actor or a musician – or indeed be prominent in any way – unless their chief object was to be famous, and that therefore they should lay themselves down gladly as a sacrifice on the alter of human curiosity. (p. 38)
There are certainly some interesting characters. Who would not be intrigued by Isabelle Eberhardt?
Half-French, half Russian, loudly and affectedly Slav in her emotional outbursts and swings of mood, small and sallow, frequently drunk or drugged, sexually promiscuous, and scornful of conventional morality, she dressed as a man and liked to sit and smoke and drink with soldiers and tribesmen from the deep Sahara. She was married to an Arab. She scandalised the army wives. She maddened authorities of all kinds. (p.88)
or indeed, the wealthy William Beckford whose manifold talents (marred by sexual indiscretion) included tower building. I wondered if the privileges of the mid-18th century British upper classes who had the means to realise their eccentric imaginings was worth the darker colonial exploitations and slavery that financed them.

Although I found many passages of interest, this is a poorly designed book. Not that the binding has failed (there are a few typos indicative of a lack of care) but it's annoying to have the chapter headings omitted from the contents page, the illustrations have no captions and the alternating use of unattributed line drawings of trees and what may be a hermitage in the author’s garden (charming as they are) serves no function other than to confuse the reader.

By the end, I felt as if the author was on a kind of quest (pilgrimage) to uncover her inner solitary. She certainly travelled and read widely but without a central thesis the book tends to feel scattered and unstructured. She writes unevenly but clearly loves words, and often sent me to my dictionary for the unfamiliar: coenobitic, yashmack, eremitic, syneisaktism, apophatic, dilatory, catamite, accidie.
… (mais)
simonpockley | outras 6 resenhas | Feb 25, 2024 |
As he does every October, in 1913, Sir Randolph Nettleby, Bart., invites some of the best shots in England to his Oxfordshire estate to shoot pheasant. The activity has a particular meaning here, for we don’t expect tweed-coated gentlemen to trample through the underbrush in their wellingtons, bagging a few birds for supper.

Rather, we have the spectacle of “beaters,” local men and boys recruited to flush the pheasant so that the frightened birds take brief flight — the only type they are capable of — toward the tweed-coated gentlemen, waiting with their loaders and dogs. Not that the participants would agree, but this is more mechanized killing than sport. The shooters take hundreds of birds, and the loaders are there to make sure the gentlemen never even have to turn their heads to receive a ready weapon, restocked with cartridges.

The novel’s opening paragraph notes that an infamous incident will take place, “an error of judgment which resulted in a death.” And since the timing is the autumn before the Great War, Colegate intends The Shooting Party as a metaphor for England on the eve of that tragic struggle.

What a metaphor it is, slaughter for its own sake, by the so-called best people in the country, no less. That the death referred to is a mistake, and that the author reveals it up front, properly removes any sense of whodunit, though the narrative does build suspense as to who will be the victim, how, and why. Instead, Colegate focuses on the characters, who represent various social classes and attitudes.

In lesser hands, this premise and approach could have devolved into a talky, theme-driven tract, populated by two-dimensional ideas rather than characters. But Colegate writes well-drawn people whose private concerns merge beautifully in a single, cohesive picture, and whose opinions often seem contradictory, which makes them more human.

For example, Sir Randolph, courteous to all despite his oft-injured sensibilities, worries that the stewards of the land, as he views himself, are a vanishing breed. Outwardly almost diffident, he nevertheless carries himself as the aristocrat born to rule, and his confusion as to how the world has changed lends him depth.

Stolid Bob Lilburn, who believes in form above all, astonishes his gorgeous wife, Olivia, by doubting that there could exist in England any people worth knowing whom he doesn’t already know. Lionel Stephens, a lawyer who seems perfect to everyone, believes he’s passionately in love with Olivia and would be willing to die for her if the fraught international situation brought war. A footman repeats this sentiment to the young parlor maid he fancies, who has the sense to think it’s twaddle.

Throughout, Colegate’s description of the shoot evokes the future conflict, often involving the manner in which the birds, fed and catered to before their destruction, are driven toward the guns. Again, a lesser author might have overplayed the symbolism, but Colegate’s hand remains deft. That’s because she’s careful to keep her descriptions active as well as physically and visually precise.

Though published forty years ago, The Shooting Party still keeps its edge. It’s one of those elegant novels I admire, in which the central action is itself an arresting metaphor. I must warn you that other than from a library (or sources in the UK), the book may be hard to find. But it is well worth your time and effort, a classic tale.
… (mais)
Novelhistorian | outras 5 resenhas | Jan 26, 2023 |
"The element of ritual lent it a kind of solemnity; like so many rituals it required a sacrifice"
By sally tarbox on 21 June 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
It's 1913 and in an aristocratic household, a group come together for a shooting party. In the first paragraph the author tells us that it culminated in "an error of judgement that resulted in a death...a mild scandal at the time."
So the reader is trying to guess throughout the narrative of the preceding twenty-four hours who will be the victim...the highly strung grandson who fears for his pet duck as the shooters blast the wildfowl? The gamekeeper's studious son who's been roped in as a beater? One of the participants in extra marital liaisons? The two menservants in competition over whose master is the best shot? The socialist eccentric who's turned up preaching animal rights and equality for the poor?
The novel (inspiration for the later Gosford Park and Downton Abbey) focuses on both above and below stairs, and gives a flavour of the world on the cusp of war, the endless loss of bird life an image of what is to follow...
Enjoyable read.
… (mais)
starbox | outras 5 resenhas | Jun 20, 2018 |
This was an interesting book. Upon picking it up I was expecting a text that centered upon what it meant to be a solitary and instead what the author writes is more about the lives of specific recluses divided up by regions time and scenery such as a desert or the forest. It is from these sketches we can draw some assumptions. Colegate's writing is wonderful and discussions of the recluses interspersed with her own travels really made this book worthwhile to me.

I did regret the lack of depth but I think I'm a bit closer on understanding solitude's draw… (mais)
_praxis_ | outras 6 resenhas | Mar 4, 2018 |



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