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Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education Paperback – Bargain Price, May 8, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Styled a "biographical novel," narrated by Bedford in the first person, and "true to life . . . give or take a novelist's margins," the engrossing story of Bedford's early years and coming of age might just as well have been called a memoir. "The Kislings and the Aldous Huxleys are . . . themselves; my mother and I are a percentage of ourselves," she writes in an author's note. The reason for clothing her story in fiction is her tact and delicacy in portraying the characters she calls the Falkenheims, the Nairns and the Desmirails, in order not to be "hurtful" to their descendants. Those who read Bedford's novel The Legacy will find echoes here, but this narrative has a more immediate effect, because the reader realizes that only a thin scrim comes between the facts of Bedford's life and their fictional rendering. Bedford (Billi here) was the product of an eccentric, unstable upbringing. Raised by her father in the Grand Duchy of Baden when her irresponsible, charismatic mother runs off with a lover; then, when she is 12, plunged into a vagabond existence shuttling between her mother in Italy and a penurious family in England to whom she is consigned, Billi becomes independent and precociously sophisticated before she reaches adolescence. Though her formal education is sketchy, her intellectual maturation occurs early on, as does her conviction that writing is to be her metier. Richly buttressed with details of social history, regional color and the artistic and literary scene of the '20s and '30s, the narrative gathers intensity as Billi discloses her mother's morphine addiction and the tragic vicissitudes endured by her London friends. In the end, one feels that Bedford has achieved the qualities writers long for: "the translation from experience into art."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Sybille Bedford was born in 1911, in Charlottenburg, Germany, and was brought up in Italy, England, and France. in 1953, she made her literary debut with A Visit to Don Otavio, and has since published eight other books - including Jigsaw, A Legacy, A Favourite of the Gods, and A Compass Error, as well as classic accounts of criminal trials and other courtroom cases, and an acclaimed biography of her mentor Aldous Huxley. She was vice president of English PEN and one of Britain's nine Companions of Literature. Ms. Bedford lived in London where she passed away in February 2006.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; 1st Counterpoint pbk. ed edition (May 8, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 1582431434
  • ASIN: B000CC49NA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 4.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,380,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Marren VINE VOICE on August 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sybille Bedford, a little known but fabulous 20th century author, has written one of the most searingly-honest semi-autobiographies I've ever read. Bedford's "Legacy" is the story of her father, written as a novel, about events that occurred long before her birth. "Jigsaw", which was short-listed for the Booker Prize, continues the tale, with the author as the major character with her mother. Although obviously based on real events, the book is nevertheless written in novelistic style, and her portrayal of life between the wars and those she knew is beautiful and very compelling. Bedford was born of upper class parents, in a milieu where people had money but no jobs, traveled around the continent for extended periods, and settled in other countries on a whim, in the days when passports and identity papers weren't necessary. Her parents divorced, the story opens with Bedford and her father living on the family estate given to her father by her mother as a settlement--surrounded by priceless antiques, but without any cash, they barter for food and the necessities of life. A lonely child, educated only by her father, knowing only adults, Bedford's life changes radically upon her father's death, and she finds herself in Italy, then France, with her beautiful, mercurial mother. Bedford turns a critical, sometimes even harsh, eye on her own behavior, berating herself for running away as a child, for an adolescent crush on another woman, for her guilt when her mother goes away and peace is restored at home.Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is an intelligent, highly engaging and fascinating novel. It mimics, both a travelogue and an autobiography. It leaves the reader itching to know how much of the story was based on the life experiences of the writer. The various relationships between the characters in the novel are quite unique and shocking yet entertaining.

I highly recommend this novel
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Between the wars life amongst the artisto-boho-bourgeoisie. I love this sort of thing. The golden age
of doctors prescribing vast doses of mophine, of motorcars being fun in the south of france, of bread
and butter and a poached egg for dinner Lyons teahouse London.

A joy to luxuriate in past-times. Of young women who go with girls or boys, and write novels, and don't
go to school, and no-one bothers them too much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lori Trew on May 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Such a good writer! Fascinating book. Fans of "The Hare with Amber Eyes", or fans of Patrick Leigh Fermor would probably enjoy this one.
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