The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen is the story of Portia - a teenage orphan living in 1930s London with her half brother Thomas and his wife Anna, who are not thrilled to have her. Portia is courted by twenty-something Eddie, who tells her he loves her. But she is disappointed and disillusioned when Eddie turns out to be a cad. Portia is an awkward child, largely due to her isolated upbringing, so she doesn't understand the insensitivity of those around her. Nearly everyone in her life is courteous, but cold.

The strength of this novel is its dialogue. Bowen captures perfectly the austere tone and small talk of polite English society. Her prose also paints a clear picture of the settings and the characters.

While weak on plot, presents a satirical look at the hypocrisy and dishonesty of people across various classes. It gives the reader a feeling for Portia's disillusionment, as her expectations of those around her are shattered. It is a story of teen angst and of the shallowness of just about all the characters.