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23 April 2020
Elizabeth Jenkins bought number 8 Downshire Hill in 1939 and lived there for fifty years, before moving to a retirement home and living to the age of 104. She was the author of thirteen novels and thirteen biographies and some of them are among the most important books of the C20th – her biographies of Jane Austen and Elizabeth the First are outstanding and so are some of her novels, in particular The Tortoise and the Hare and Harriet. The former is about a QC married to the beautiful but passive Imogen who has to watch her husband being wrenched away from her by the appalling but strangely charismatic Blanche, while Harriet is loosely based on the 1877 Penge murder and although rather horrifying (Harriet is basically starved to death by her family in order that they should inherit her fortune) it is so magnificently and subtly written that the delicacy of the prose obliterates the horrifying aspects.
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