Described as the most Proustian of Elizabeth Bowen’s novels, The Little Girls trips and misleads its readers, from its disingenuous title onward. With a structure reminiscent of The House in Paris (1934), this penultimate novel of Bowen’s career begins and ends with three old women as protagonists, with a middle section revisiting a key moment in their past as school-age friends on the eve of the First World War. Perhaps “The Old Ladies” struck Bowen as a less appealing title, but it is more likely that her choice to focus on the childhood incarnation of her characters signals the severe case of arrested development all three women suffer from, to varying degrees and for different reasons.
Citation: Brassard, Genevieve. "The Little Girls". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 June 2008 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=333, accessed 26 September 2023.]