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A Genius for Living: The Life of Frieda Lawrence Hardcover – April, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One wonders whether this lively, accessible biography of the aristocratic Prussian best known as the wife of English novelist D.H. Lawrence might better have been titled A Genius for Survival. Byrne, who has contributed essays and criticism to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek, chronicles the tumultuous life of a headstrong woman married first to Ernest Weekley, an aloof, condescending English professor who was to cut her off from their three children; then to Lawrence; and finally to Angelino Ravagli, a blithely adulterous Italian soldier. Frieda also survived a liaison with psychoanalyst Otto Rank?a cocaine addict and the father of her sister's child. But it is the second marriage, to Lawrence, that is the focus of Byrne's analysis. She details the couple's ties to the English literati, such as imperious Lady Ottoline Morrell, Lawrence's patron, later his lover; and Ford Madox Ford, like Frieda enduring the discomfort of being German in wartime England. She reveals the potent mix of dependence, desire and rage that fueled the relationship of the novelist and his wife. Hardly the earthy, shallow libertine she was often taken to be, Frieda was D.H.'s careful critic and unflappable defender. To the irascible, tubercular novelist, she was torment, lover and muse. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Departing from previous scholarly dismissals of Frieda Lawrence as selfish and unintelligent, journalist Byrne explores Frieda's influence on her husband, D.H. Lawrence, and finds her to be intelligent, perceptive, and a trusted reader of his novels. Leaving her previous husband and children to marry Lawrence, she became his muse and caretaker, nursing him through numerous bouts of flu and bronchitis and encouraging his creative efforts despite his often violent physical attacks on her, until he finally succumbed to tuberculosis at age 45. Interwoven with details of Lawrence's writing, the story of their tumultuous marriage with its fighting, infidelities, and constant moving about makes amusing and enlightening reading. Byrne has thoroughly researched the couple's lives, drawing on previously unpublished material, memoirs, and interviews with friends and relatives to present convincing evidence that shows Frieda as an important contributor to her husband's creative efforts. Recommended for all libraries.?Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (April 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060190019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060190019
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,412,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Allthough I knew little about Frieda Lawrence when I started reading this book, I found the topic fascinating--mainly because the writing is superb and the descriptions are vivid. I know it's a book I'll read again (and again) because it's rife with compelling detail and history. I found myself wishing I had known Frieda Lawrence almost as soon as I started the book. She did seem to have a genius for living, but it took a skillful, gifted biographer like Byrne to capture her fully in print with humor and insight. I recommend this book--it's unforgettable. It's also a great gift (as I discovered with numerous friends).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Here is a biography that contains many surprises: historically and artistically. It's exhaustively researched and detailed and is always funny and fascinating. Byrne's sense of humor shines throughout the book. She's a terrific artist; her way with words makes this a quick read. The insights into the marriage of Freida and D.H. Lawrence are often harrowing. But throughout, Freida's relationships with all the people in her life make up a powerfully compelling story. I was sorry when I reached the end
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joan on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book that was ordered August 22, has never arrived.I'd like to review it but don't have it. Not satisfied!!
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