Ageing is alway as delicate subject, viz. Isabella and Evalie who, in Elizabeth Taylor's novel The Sleeping Beauty, face middle age together. 'They counted up calories,bought new corsets and tried new face-creams; cut paragraphs out of magazines for one another and went together to the Turkish baths. They remained the same -- two rather larkish school-girls... 'We haven't changed enough,' Isabella once said. 'We don't any longer match our looks.' Sitting side-by-side in the steam-room, Evalue reflects, 'We look discarded, sitting here ... As if we were waiting for a train which never comes.' 'I'm sure I've done everthing I could think of,' Isabella says, 'those beauty articles ... I could write them myself in my sleep ... What I detest is the way our breasts go out sideways when we get older. They look as if they're tired of one another's company.' On matters such as these, etiquette manuals were ill-equipped to advise, even if, like How to Dress Well, they included chapters on dress for a 'Woman of 40' quickly followed by the 'Twilight Years.'
I couldn't resist. Is it any wonder that this book has added some serious length to my reading list?