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Shared Lives: A Remembrance (American) Hardcover – September 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393031640
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393031645
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on letters, diaries and her own memory, Gordon ( Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life ) offers a candid and touching memoir of her friendship with three women, all now dead, who grew up with the author in the middle-class liberal Jewish society of Cape Town, South Africa, during the 1950s. Their lives were both clarified and crippled by the horrors of apartheid and by the pressure of their own nearly inevitable destinies as wives and mothers. Focusing on the struggles of her close friend Flora Givent, who rebelled against the bourgeois expectations surrounding her, Gordon's account is reminiscent of de Beauvoir's Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter : she describes Flora's fight to chart her own course. Whatever success Gordon's trio found in determining their lives she attributes, in great part, to the strength of their love for one another. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Gordon (English, Oxford Univ.), who has written books on T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf, here stretches the bounds of traditional biography to encompass the private, unrecorded lives of her three close childhood friends in order to illuminate South African culture and demonstrate how she and other women struggled to define themselves within a repressive society. The author follows Romy, Ellie, and Rose from their coming of age in a white, Jewish, bourgeois Cape Town neighborhood of the 1950s through young adulthood, trying finally to make sense of their premature deaths. Her prose is clear and fluid, her characterizations often vivid. Yet, perhaps inevitably, a book that casts its net wide enough to span four lives and several continents sacrifices depth; none of the other women seem as fully fleshed-out as the dissatisfied, ebullient Romy, and the narrative's abrupt segues--from personal to political, country to country, life to life--are distracting. For general readers and collections in women's studies and South African culture.
- Ellen Finnie Duranceau, MIT Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Natania Rosenfed on May 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a lovely, deeply meaningful book. Deeply meaningful because female friendship is so rarely explored in literature, and in non-fiction, rarely explored without a kind of insistence: "See, this is better than--or as good as--any heterosexual relationship." The love between girls who grow up together in an insular society is simply and matter-of-factly rendered, as is the importance of friendship among women. Indeed, there is no hint of special pleading in this book; the author is a feminist, but not striving to make a case for feminism, nor for any other isms. She is a Jew, but doesn't bend over backwards either to explain Jewishness to others, or to signal tribal themes to Jewish readers. She is from South Africa, but, though she writes of apartheid with clear moral repulsion, does not apologize for her native origins, or for her love of South Africa's landscape and some of its people. She is an academic but does not try the lay reader with terminology or scholarly arcana. Above all, she brings to life a woman anyone would have wanted to know, her lively, passionate, charming friend Romy, who died too young. I gobbled the book up in two days, and found myself close to tears at the end.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tessa Gevint on October 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book, written by ex-South African Lyndall Gordon captures a time and place like no-one ever will. Through her story you meet Romy, Rosie and Lyndall and transport yourself to a different era. However - whatever the logistical differences there may be, the lesson you learn is that being human is a universal and ageless condition.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i enjoyed the 2nd half where the narrative was more dialogue than the repetitive, analytic beginning. it would be interesting to have a sequel of the 3rd generation's experiences. why not go for it?.
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