The Last September Summary

  • Last updated on June 28, 2023
Title: The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen

Author: Elizabeth Bowen
Title: The Last September
Publication Date: 1929
Genre: Fiction, Historical Drama
Page Length: Not Known


In the enthralling novel, "The Last September" by Elizabeth Bowen, readers are transported to 1920s Ireland as they unravel the story of the Naylor family and their interactions with the Anglo-Irish community during a time of political unrest. This tale captures the essence of love, loss, and societal change against the backdrop of an impending revolution.

The novel is divided into three distinct parts, each exploring various aspects of the characters' lives and their response to the evolving political landscape.

Part One: Introduction to Danielstown

The story begins with the introduction of Lois Farquar, a young woman who lives with her aunt and uncle at Danielstown, a country estate in Cork. The narrative showcases the idyllic surroundings of the Danielstown estate and provides insight into the lives of its inhabitants, including Sir Richard Naylor, Lady Myra, and their niece, Lois. The oppressive heat and the approaching arrival of the Meldon family foreshadow the changes and disturbances that will soon occur.

Part Two: The Arrival of the Meldons

The arrival of the Meldon family, an Anglo-Irish couple from England, disrupts the tranquil routine of Danielstown. Marda Norton, Lady Myra's half-sister, and her husband Hugo Meldon bring an air of sophistication and modernity to the estate. Charmingly charismatic, they quickly become the center of attention and entangle themselves in various relationships within the community. Lois, captivated by Marda's allure, forms an intense friendship with her, while Gerald Lesworth, a British soldier visiting the estate, falls for Lois, creating a complex love triangle.

Themes of love, desire, and the conflicts between tradition and modernity emerge as the characters navigate their complicated emotions while experiencing the political tensions that surround them.

Part Three: Rising Political Unrest

As Ireland becomes increasingly volatile, political tensions continue to mount. The rebellion, known as the War of Independence, gains momentum, leading to the rise of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The Naylor family, as well as their visitors, slowly realize the gravity of the situation, with ominous signs and occasional skirmishes becoming more frequent. The novel addresses the social divisions between the Anglo-Irish elite and the Nationalist movement that seeks to overthrow British rule. Bowen skillfully depicts the fear and uncertainty gripping the characters, who find themselves caught between loyalty to their class and the desire for an independent Ireland.

Tragedy strikes when the IRA executes two British soldiers in the vicinity of Danielstown, causing further unrest and triggering fear among the British presence. Faced with the escalating violence, the Naylor family and their acquaintances begin considering their options, contemplating whether to stay or abandon their homes.

Throughout the novel, themes of loss, disillusionment, and the inevitable change brought by revolution are explored. The characters grapple with the shifting social landscape and the profound impact these changes will have on their lives.

As the climax unfolds, readers witness the heart-wrenching departure of Gerald Lesworth, who leaves Lois behind to return to England, abandoning both her and their unborn child. This moment serves as a representation of the futility felt by the characters trapped between their desires and the tumultuous times.

The novel concludes with Lois and Lady Myra moving away from Danielstown, leaving behind a lifestyle forever altered by the events of that final September. The Last September reminds readers of the impermanence of tradition and the inevitability of change.


"The Last September" serves as a captivating depiction of the Anglo-Irish class during a tumultuous period in Irish history. Elizabeth Bowen's skillful portrayal of the characters' struggles against the backdrop of political unrest offers readers a nuanced understanding of the larger forces shaping society at the time. By showcasing the clash between tradition and modernity and exploring the ramifications of rebellion, the novel provides valuable insights into the socio-political context of the era.

Bowen's ability to weave complex relationships and poignant emotions into the narrative captivates readers, making "The Last September" an essential read for those interested in historical fiction and the profound impact of societal change on individuals' lives.

Categories: Books