Following her divorce from her first husband, the celebrated naturalist Peter Scott, Jane embarked on a string of high-profile affairs with Cecil Day-Lewis, Arthur Koestler and Laurie Lee, which turned her into a literary femme fatale. Yet the image of a sophisticated woman hid a romantic innocence which clouded her emotional judgement. She was nearing the end of a disastrous second marriage when she met Kingsley Amis, and for a few years they were a brilliant and glamorous couple - until that marriage too disintegrated. She settled in Suffolk where she wrote and entertained friends, but her turbulent love life was not over yet. In her early seventies Jane fell for a conman. His unmasking was the final disillusion, and inspired one of her most powerful novels, Falling.
Artemis Cooper interviewed Jane several times in Suffolk. She also talked extensively to her family, friends and contemporaries, and had access to all her papers. Her biography explores a woman trying to make sense of her life through her writing, as well as illuminating the literary world in which she lived.
Paula Fox has long been acclaimed as one of America's most brilliant fiction writers. Borrowed Finery, her first book in nearly a decade, is an astonishing memoir of her highly unusual beginnings.
Born in the twenties to nomadic, bohemian parents, Fox is left at birth in a Manhattan orphanage, then cared for by a poor yet cultivated minister in upstate New York. Her parents, however, soon resurface. Her handsome father is a hard-drinking screenwriter who is, for young Paula, "part ally, part betrayer." Her mother is given to icy bursts of temper that punctuate a deep indifference. How, Fox wonder, is this woman "enough of an organic being to have carried me in her belly"?
Never sharing more than a few moments with his daughter, Fox's father allows her to be shunted from New York City, where she lives with her passive Spanish grandmother, to Cuba, where she roams freely on a relative's sugar-cane plantation, to California, where she finds herself cast upon Hollywood's grubby margins. The thread binding these wanderings is the "borrowed finery" of the title-a few pieces of clothing, almost always lent by kind-hearted strangers, that offer Fox a rare glimpse of permanency.
Vivid and poetic, Borrowed Finery is an unforgettable book which will swell the legions of Paula Fox's devoted admiriers.
An immensely readable biography of the 19th century writer whose territory comprised nothing less than the entire span of Victorian society. Kathryn Hughes provides a truly nuanced view of Eliot, and is the first to grapple equally with the personal dramas that shaped her personality – particularly her rejection by her brother Isaac – and her social and intellectual context. Hughes shows how these elements together forged the themes of Eliot’s work, her insistence that ideological interests be subordinated to the bonds between human beings – a message that has keen resonance in our own time. With wit and sympathy Kathryn Hughes has written a wonderfully vivid account of Eliot’s life that is both moving, stimulating and at times laugh-out-loud funny.
You Never Know is former WAAF officer and bestselling novelist Claire Lorrimer's autobiography, containing a graphic description of the six years she spent doing vitally secret work as a WAAF in the Fighter Command Filter Rooms in World War Two. It is the fascinating story of a life overflowing with adventure, humour, tragedy, love, joy and disasters.
Claire paints vivid images of her childhood when her mother, the famous author Denise Robins, entertained pre-and post-war literati at her weekend country house parties. Armed with an old typewriter, a vivid imagination and a passion for life, Claire started writing books during the war. She has had a remarkable career and You Never Know is the intriguing story of a long and extraordinary life.
Fifty years after Evelyn Waugh’s death, here is a completely fresh view of one of the most gifted -- and fascinating -- writers of our time, the enigmatic author of Brideshead Revisited.
Graham Greene hailed Waugh as ‘the greatest novelist of my generation’, and in recent years his reputation has only grown. Now Philip Eade has delivered an authoritative and hugely entertaining biography that is full of new material, much of it sensational.
Eade builds upon the existing Waugh lore with access to a remarkable array of unpublished sources provided by Waugh’s grandson, including passionate love letters to Baby Jungman – the Holy Grail of Waugh research - a revealing memoir by Waugh’s first wife Evelyn Gardner (“Shevelyn”), and an equally significant autobiography by Waugh’s commanding officer in World War II.
Eade’s gripping narrative illuminates Waugh’s strained relationship with his sentimental father and blatantly favoured elder brother; his love affairs with male classmates at Oxford and female bright young things thereafter; his disastrous first marriage and subsequent conversion to Roman Catholicism; his insane wartime bravery; his drug-induced madness; his singular approach to marriage and fatherhood; his complex relationship with the aristocracy; the astonishing power of his wit; and the love, fear, and loathing that he variously inspired in others.
One of Eade’s aims is ‘to re-examine some of the distortions and misconceptions that have come to surround this famously complex and much mythologized character’.‘This might look like code for a plan to whitewash the overly blackwashed Waugh,’ comments veteran Waugh scholar Professor Donat Gallagher; ‘but readers fixated on atrocities will not be disappointed . . . I have been researching and writing about Waugh since 1963 and Eade time and again surprised and delighted me.’
Waugh was famously difficult and Eade brilliantly captures the myriad facets of his character even as he casts new light on the novels that have dazzled generations of readers.
The political scene was dominated by the British Ambassador Sir Miles Lampson. In February 1942 he surrounded the Abdin Palace with tanks and attempted to depose King Farouk. Five months later it looked as if the British would be thrown out of Egypt for good. Rommel's forces were only sixty miles from Alexandria - but the Germans were pushed back and Cairo life went on.
Meanwhile, in the Egyptian Army, a handful of young officers were thinking dangerous thoughts.