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Showing posts from April, 2015

Adeline: A Novel of Virginia Woolf by Norah Vincent

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On April 18, 1941, twenty-two days after Virginia Woolf went for a walk near her weekend house in Sussex and never returned, her body was reclaimed from the River Ouse. Norah Vincent’s Adeline reimagines the events that brought Woolf to the riverbank, offering us a denouement worthy of its protagonist.

With poetic precision and psychological acuity, Vincent channels Virginia and Leonard Woolf, T. S. and Vivienne Eliot, Lytton Strachey and Dora Carrington, laying bare their genius and their blind spots, their achievements and their failings, from the inside out. And haunting every page is Adeline, the name given to Virginia Stephen at birth, which becomes the source of Virginia’s greatest consolation, and her greatest torment.


Intellectually and emotionally disarming, Adeline a vibrant portrait of Woolf and her social circle, the storied Bloomsbury group, and a window into the darkness that both inspired and doomed them all. 

Hardcover: 288 pagesPublisher: Houghton Mifflin Harc…

Meeting Lynn Truss talking Cat Out of Hell, Tennyson's Gift, and a certain Mrs. Cameron!

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Upon the U.S. publication of Cat out of Hell by Lynn Truss last month, I finally got a rare chance to meet her and have a brief chat with her about her novels, a certain Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Julia Margaret Cameron. Her current novel, Cat out of Hell is a Gothic take on a story of a cat's nine lives and each interaction with its human (owner). Lynn, brilliantly, writes from the cat's perspective telling each life's story to his human and then switches chapters from the human character perspective who can't believe their 'pet' cat is speaking to them in English!  It is hilarious. However, there is a dark undertone on a serious note about death and grief but overall highly recommended.


I was one of a very small crowd sitting inside an Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC, Barnes and Noble, listening to Lynn Truss read a chapter or two from, 'Cat out of Hell' while taking a few questions. I knew right away I was one of the only people who knew who she was…

My thoughts about The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and The Secret History of Wonderland by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst

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Following his acclaimed life of Dickens, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst illuminates the tangled history of two lives and two books. Drawing on numerous unpublished sources, he examines in detail the peculiar friendship between the Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child for whom he invented the Alice stories, and analyzes how this relationship stirred Carroll’s imagination and influenced the creation of Wonderland. It also explains why Alice in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (1871), took on an unstoppable cultural momentum in the Victorian era, and why one hundred fifty years later they continue to enthrall and delight us.


The Story of Alice reveals Carroll as both an innovator and stodgy traditionalist, entrenched in habits and routines. He had a keen double interest in keeping things moving and keeping them just as they are (in Looking-Glass Land, Alice must run faster and faster to stay in one place). Tr…

Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand: A Review!

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A tragedy that occurs in a hospital for the insane in Frankfurt, Germany, will have repercussions across decades and eras. Several weeks after the death of a female patient in a terrible fire, the poet Algernon Swinburne follows a mysterious woman through the shadows toward a remarkable event at once enthralling, stimulating, and terrifying beneath the streets of London. Years later, at the start of a new century, a struggling young artist, Radborne Comstock, is introduced to a ravishing beauty who immediately becomes his muse, his desire, and his greatest torment. It is a legacy of pleasure and madness that will be passed down to his grandson, the dilettante actor Valentine Comstock, who is plagued by disturbing and increasingly erotic visions. And in the present day a journalist named Daniel Rowlands is seduced by the bewitching and mercurial Larkin Meade, who holds the key to lost artistic masterpieces, and to secrets too devastating to imagine.
What connects these men …

The Holy Grail Tapestries on view again! Run don't walk to see them...

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Birmingham Museums, UK, will have The Holy Grail Tapestries on display again as part of the Love is Enough: William Morris and Andy Warhol exhibit.  They have been my favorite tapestries ever since I discovered the paintings of Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. They are truly beautiful.

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 1 -  Knights of the Round Table Summoned to the Quest by the Strange Damsel,
By Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Henry Dearle, 1898 – 1899

Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 2 - The Arming and Departure of the Knights, By Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Henry Dearle, 1895 – 1896 
Quest for the Holy Grail Tapestries - Panel 3 - The Failure of Sir Gawaine; Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine at the Ruined Chapel, By Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, John Henry Dearle, 1895 – 1896
For more information about this exhibit,  Birmingham Museum

The Downward Spiral of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (12 May 1828-9 April 1882) or Upon the Death of Gabriel

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti by W. & D. Downey albumen cabinet card, December 1862, NPG

We will never truly know what caused Gabriel’s mental destruction and physical deterioration. Was it a culmination of life experiences, i.e. the death of his wife, Lizzie Siddal, and Jane Morris leaving him ending their love affair? It is with sadness that I look upon the last ten years of his life wondering what happened?Was he self-medicating to kill his grief and pain over lost loves? He was still painting and writing poetry, shedding light on his mental capacity to harness his creativity.His friends observed his changing behavior and mannerisms not knowing what to do or how to help their friend. The word ‘madness’ was tossed about, physical incoherency and bouts of paranoia abound. Ex lover, Jane Morris observed, ‘when I found that he was ruining himself with chloral and that I could do nothing to prevent it I left off going to him on account of the children.’ Even though, Jane Morris would rem…