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Customer Review

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What you didn't know about these writers..., August 18, 2007
This review is from: Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939 (Hardcover)
I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book a few months ago to review. I really enjoyed it! I happened to be reading Enchanted April, by Elizabeth Von Arnim at the time, so that was a very happy coincidence. I had read her book before, but knew nothing about her. She is one of the artists/writers profiled in this book. There are seven sections for each "couple" or "group." And definitely do not skip the opening chapter, Marriage a La Mode, th author's brillant and helpful introduction to the book and to the times these artists and their works existed.

I really loved the section on Vanessa Bell, "Bunny" and the Bloomsbury group. Simply fascinating. Her daughter Angelica later married her biological father's lover. The complicated family groups created by these people are often bizarre, even incestuous, but they seem to have worked for them to some degree. Reading about these people and their complicated lives, mostly being lived out of a desire to be free from conventional, traditional, expected roles in their times, was truly fascinating. We "tut tut" daily over Britney, Lindsey and Paris; well, they can't hold a candle to these folks! Katherine Mansfield was much more lady-like, educated and interesting than any of them. Also read about HG Wells, his long suffering wife Jane, and his lover, young upstart journalist Rebecca West.

This book seems to be very well researched and is very well written. With what I am sure is an overwhelming amount of information available on these prolific writers and their lives, Roiphe has managed to handle the subject both delicately and thoroughly enough without letting it be too much information. Certainly, the portraits in this book are compelling enough to warrant more exploration, but she manages to whet your appetite so that you want to learn more, not only about their lives, but more importantly about their work, which was their lives, and what was so desperately important to each and every writer and artist in this book.

A great read. A definite recommendation.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 27, 2009 6:35:39 AM PDT
MS says:
What makes this book interesting is the people in the described relationships, not the relationships themselves. Give me a break! When one thinks about the people who are all over the tabloids: Lindsey, Paris, Britney you just can't compare them to HG Wells, the Bloomsburys or Mansfield.

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2009 8:46:41 PM PDT
Kiki says:
I'm not comparing their personalities, I'm comparing their celebrity. Not to mention, I was complimenting the real life people in the book, and basically saying the "fake" lives of celebs today are dull and lifeless compared to the vibrant and interesting lives of the personalities displayed in the book.

Give me a break!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2010 9:01:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 25, 2010 9:02:07 PM PDT
C2015 says:
I would love to read what Ms. Roiphe thinks of the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor romance as well as many others in decades since the end of her book. Jack and Jackie? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? There's fodder for continuing books in every decade. Virginia Masters and whatshisfirstname Johnson. Oh, and Kinsey and his wife. The list is endless! Her analysis is so dead-on that it's sometimes uncanny and a bit scary when I saw something that fit my own failed marriage.
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