The Transit of Venus

The Transit of Venus

by Shirley Hazzard


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The masterpiece of Shirley Hazzard (1931-2016), The Transit of Venus won the National Book Critics' Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

The Transit of Venus is considered Shirley Hazzard's most brilliant novel. It tells the story of two orphan sisters, Caroline and Grace Bell, as they leave Australia to start a new life in post-war England. What happens to these young women--seduction and abandonment, marriage and widowhood, love and betrayal--becomes as moving and wonderful and yet as predestined as the transits of the planets themselves. Gorgeously written and intricately constructed, Hazzard's novel is a story of place: Sydney, London, New York, Stockholm; of time: from the fifties to the eighties; and above all, of women and men in their passage through the displacements and absurdities of modern life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140107470
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/1990
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 271,648
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Born in Australia, Shirley Hazzard traveled the world during her early years, a result of her parents' diplomatic postings. In 1947, at the age of 16, she was engaged by British intelligence to monitor the civil war in China. In 1963, she married the writer Francis Steegmuller, who died in 1994. She has written several novels, two of which were National Book Award Finalists: The Bay of Noon (1971) and The Transit of Venus (1981, available from Penguin). She is also the author of two collections of short stories, and several works of nonfiction including the memoir Greene on Capri. Hazzard's most recent work, The Great Fire, won of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction and the Miles Franklin Award. She died in 2016.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 30, 1931

Place of Birth:

Sydney, Australia


Educated at Queenwood College, Sydney, Australia

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The Transit of Venus 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took me three attempts to finally 'get into' the book, and I'm glad that I persisted. This book is rich in character development and insightful in motive. The last few pages reveal a surprise that makes me want to start the book over again to see how Shirley Hazzard did it. Masterful. Warning- Keep a dictionary nearby. Ms Hazzard is very precise in her language and choice of words. Some words were new to me (Such as: 'palliating' and 'inapposite')but greatly enriched the reading experience.
infosleuth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this book, shortly after it was published, I found it so dense that when I finished it I forgot everything I had read -- or so I thought. After reading The Great Fire, which I loved, I decided to re-read The Transit of Venus to find out what I had missed. It didn't take long for me to see that this was one of the best books I had ever read. I realised that I needed to have had some life experience for the ideas in it to relate to. There were moments of deja vu, too, that were rather special as certain descriptions that adhered to my sub-conscious mind during my first reading seemed almost to appear in bold on the page. It is certainly not worthwhile to persevere with a book that you don't enjoy. Save it for a rainy day a couple of decades down the track! You'll be rewarded.
CloggieDownunder on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shirley Hazzard¿s novel, The Transit of Venus is beautifully written: the language was wonderful, very descriptive. There were some excellent scenes. The characters, however, leave a lot to be desired. They all seemed to be either nasty or weak, or sometimes both. There wasn¿t anyone there to really love or believe in. For lovers of language, this would be a satisfactory experience, but if you value the story as much as the language, you might be disappointed. I got to the last paragraph and was completely confused, having dismissed an earlier vital clue as an extraneous detail. I had to go online to read some discussion groups before I had figured it out. I¿m not sure the reading experience, the quality of the writing, was worth the effort for the final outcome. I found it heavy going. I¿ll hesitate before devoting time to another Shirley Hazzard book.
dallenbaugh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dense language, often beautiful, often difficult to read, "Paul got up and dressed. From the bed Caro watched, languid as a patient emerging from ether, in pain and swirled by slow impressions that would scarcely focus; while the wakeful world, personified in Paul, went about its business. Suspension of will in this experience might almost have brought new innocence, had it not been so deeply willed. There was the offering and inflicting: a brief excuse for the limitless tenderness no man would otherwise indulge." The characters and plot were richly developed and, I felt, very satisfying. An excellent read, but not to everyone's taste.
d.homsher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A complex novel about sisters, more dense than any of D. H. Lawrence's girls, with each setting (Australia, England, NY) entirely grounded. Hazzard is a craftswoman. She can catch a character in a single paragraph and New York City in two.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
For some reason this book reminds me of Thomas Hardy's novels - perhaps something in the opening pages of the book. A tinge of melancholy and fatedness. And later on, the wrong turnings taken. It is not quite easy to sum it up, as it works on many layers. It has been a favourite for many years, and I have given it as a present to quite a few friends, who have all enjoyed it.