These two novels are the sequels to West's The Fountain Overflows (1957), a saga about an eccentric and musical Aubrey family in London from the Edwardian period to the Depression. I really loved The Fountain Overflows, but I'm not so sure about its sequels. This may be because they were incomplete on West's death, and … Continue reading Rebecca West: This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund
I bought this imposing Harvill Press hardback on impulse while looking for something entirely different, and it held me enthralled for five evenings of reading. Before this, I didn't know much about the French Revolution, and I knew nothing about the years between the Terror and Napoleon's coronation. Madame de La Tour du Pin's memoirs … Continue reading The Memoirs of Madame de La Tour du Pin
I took a while to get into this sturdy family saga: it was blocking the reading pile for weeks while I struggled to pay it proper attention. Then something clicked, and the peculiarities of The Fountain Overflows (1956) began to attract my attention. At first I thought that it was rather like Rose Macaulay’s Told … Continue reading Rebecca West, The Fountain Overflows
I think I must have read this Angela Thirkell novel first when I was 13, stuck in bed with mumps, and very bored. It entranced me. The tiresome adult children converging on the beleaguered and saintly mother; the glow of perfection cast over the rightful landowning classes; the crashing irruption of the Adams family into … Continue reading Angela Thirkell’s The Headmistress
A slightly unfortunate phrasing, that: as if she'd written a novel called Death, or Sudden Demise. It's a great novel, and I talk about it over on Vulpes Libris. Go see.
The only things I knew about Angelica Garnett before I read this autobiography were (1) that she was the daughter of Vanessa Bell and her lover Duncan Grant, and (2) that her eventual husband David Garnett had announced that he would marry Angelica on first meeting her, in her cradle. Deceived With Kindness suggests that … Continue reading Angelica Garnett, Deceived with Kindness. A Bloomsbury Childhood
I was in two minds about this book all the way through, and I’m still unclear how I feel about it. It’s certainly compelling, but it is three stories bundled into one narrative, and sold under the bookshelf-friendly title of yet another memoir from the Sackville-West / Nicolson dynasty. (The full title, A House Full … Continue reading A House Full of Daughters, by Juliet Nicolson