Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Images & Shadows: Part of a Life (Nonpareil Book, 82)
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Customer Reviews

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on December 19, 1998
I turn to this memoir whenever I need perspective on what matters in life. Origo, despite her privilege and access to many of the great figures of the 20th century, never lost sight of what mattered: the people that she loved. This is how she introduces her memoir: "It has sometimes been pointed out to me that I have had a very varied and interesting life, have lived in some extremely beautiful places and have met some remarkable people. I suppose it is true, but now that I have reached `the end game', I do not find myself dwelling upon these pieces on the board. The figures that still stand out there now are the people to whom, in different ways and in different degrees, I have been bound by affection. Not only are they the people whom I most vividly remember, but I realise that it is only through them that I have learned anything about life at all. The brilliant talk that I heard at I Tatti in my youth, in Bloomsbury in the thirties, in New York and Rome in later years, has lost some of its glitter. All that is left to me of my past life that has not faded into mist has passed through the filter, not of my mind, but of my affections. What has not warmed by them is now for me as if it had never been."
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on August 3, 2000
This well-written memoir is an opportunity to get a first-hand peek at a whole different culture, society and way of thinking. The author is not pretenuous at all in the almost matter-of-fact style that she uses to describe a privileged life where money was always available to provide the necessities and the luxuries. Here we see a glimpse of the reaction of the privileged class to the horrors of war when it made its way to the door steps of their salons.
The best part of the book though was the insight into the author's opinions about the philosophy of writing. Here the modern middle-class American is allowed into the thoughts and opinions of one who was raised with all the advantages of tutors, exposure to the best art in the world, and variety of influential and interesting characters who sailed through her life.
The book would have been much better had the author allowed her emotions to shine through when writing about the deaths of her loved ones. This is the only flaw in the book and this failure leaves the reader with a longing to have had more opportunity to learn the complexities of this intelligent lady.
Anyone who enjoys reading about the aristocracy will enjoy this small, spare book.
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on June 7, 2000
This a charming and moving account of what on the surface appears to have been a very privileged life; however the author tells her story (which at times is very sad) without 'showing off' at all.
For those who have enjoyed this book, I recommend Kinta Beevor's A Tuscan Childhood and, also, although it is about an English childhood, James Lees-Milne's Another Self. Both manage to evoke the magic of childhood in the early 20th century in settings that are closer to, say the 17th century, than to today's world.
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on April 1, 2014
I read this book and "War in Val d'Orcia" which lead me to my current stay at the Tuscan farm "La Foce" (lafoce.com). It is a wonderful story and Iris Origo's background is remarkable. I came here as a sort of pilgrammage after reading the book. It is also a great location for visiting the hilltop Tuscan towns like Montepulciano, Montalcino, Orvieto etc.
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on January 30, 2016
I purchased this book after visiting The Villa Medici's enchanted garden; the garden of Iris Origo's early life. I wanted to learn about the person who grew in this inspired and inspiring place. What was her life?
This is a book one can read at one sitting, or open anywhere to enjoy her evocative writing. It's not just about the love and planning of gardens, but also about the vicissitudes of her family life. life.
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on May 29, 2009
I am on the third chapter of this most moving and illuminating book. How it contrasts with the vulgarity of our times. Am looking forward to reading her other books.
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on May 1, 2016
Iris Origo had a difficult, if not charmed, childhood. Her education was unusual yet thorough. Her marriage was not the norm for her social standing yet worked. Her steadfastness during WWII (Please read her war diary) invoked a strong, sensitive woman who did not become afraid in the face of the horrors that came to the farm.
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on April 8, 2006
I read both the Origo books many years ago and found her company delicious. One really feels honored to enjoy the refinement and intelligence of such a writer.
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on April 28, 2016
For an Italian history buff this may be a good read. I ordered is as a companion book to her partial diary during WW11 in Tuscany.
That being said, Lady Origio was a good writer for the times; her privileged life and schooling certainly show this. I am having difficulty reading as the size and style font she apparently chose for her books is hard for older eyes to see. Her style of writing is more European than American, so it does make it somewhat challenging to read. Every so often, she will throw in a, no-doubt, common to the time/ language phrase without a translation. She is a good storyteller and leaves nothing out, but I am finding it a bit challenging to continue reading.
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on July 11, 2014
I found Images & Shadows by Iris Origo fascinating.. Coming from such a wealthy family she was so modest and unassuming. I also purchased the coffee table book with stunning pictures of the estate in Tuscany. Definitely books worth owning.
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