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Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life Hardcover – International Edition, September 25, 2018
But when Rosie is ten years old, everything changes. She and Jo lose their father, their London house, their school, their friends, and -- most agonisingly of all -- their beloved Nanny, Vera, the only adult to have shown them real love and affection.
Briskly dispatched to a freezing boarding-school in Hertfordshire, they once again feel like imprisoned castaways. But slowly the teenage Rosie escapes from the cold world of the Fifties, into a place of inspiration and mischief, of loving friendships and dedicated teachers, where a young writer is suddenly ready to be born.
About the Author
- Publisher : Chatto & Windus (September 25, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1784742279
- ISBN-13 : 978-1784742270
- Item Weight : 12.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.67 x 0.94 x 8.03 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,210,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #15,502 in Author Biographies
- #30,201 in Women's Biographies
- #88,533 in Memoirs (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Written with her usual eye for visual and emotional detail, unsentimental but not afraid of describing strong feeling, this is a pleasurable and speedy read. Rose made the best of the Swiss finishing school her mother forced on her (instead of Oxford), but encouraged by her English teacher and recognising her own need to become a writer, she persevered along her chosen path. If she writes more about that, I will certainly read it.
Rose Tremain was born "Rosemary" but was known as "Rosie". Her parents - both rather eccentric in that uniquely British way - split early in Rosie's life. Her mother was indifferent to her two daughters and their upbringing was left to her beloved "Nan", who provided the hands-on love and attention most parents give their children. She was sent to a boarding school at eight where she made friends, did fairly well scholastically, and began to look at the artistic side of life. She wanted to go to Oxford, but her mother sent her to a Swiss "finishing school". The book ends when she seizes control of her life and enrolls at the Sorbonne. Tremain notes in the text when she's used her own life experiences in her novels and short stories.
I never tell someone to buy a memoir. Any memoir. Memoirs tend to be intensely individual and the reader often reads something she really doesn't want to know. "TMI", you know what I mean. I will only say about Rose Tremain's memoir is interesting and well-written. But, if you're not interested in the person and the times she writes about, you won't like "Rosie". If you are interested in post-WW2 Britain, as I am, the book is probably for you.
This book is very different. It is autobiographical, but is not simply a narrative description of a childhood and adolescence. I believe she is trying to tell us how her childhood has moulded the person she is now, and how it has influenced her novels. She even recounts how incidents from her childhood have reappeared in her novels.
The example I remember most is a trip into the forests in the Swiss mountains with her fellow finishing school student, eating wild strawberries reappearing as a key point in her novel "The Gustav Sonata" where Gustav and Anton as boys find an abandoned hospital for consumptives above the tree line in Switzerland.
Although she says that writers should not write only about what they know, but use their imagination to recreate something new, this book almost contradicts that. I feel I know the novelist much better, at least I know more of who she is as a person, but also how a privileged but cold upbringing has influenced the characters she paints so well.
Rose Tremain writes of the human condition with great strength-maybe only some aspects of that condition, and certainly her situations are most convincing when her characters are conditioned to appreciate beauty in art.
I have to say that her novels are of greater stature than this book. Knowing the background to them better is worthwhile but in the end less interesting and involving.
And I have to say that her mother seems to me to have been a more interesting person than that described so critically here-she may have been a poor mother, but she obviously led a colourful life full of contact with colourful people, not least Rose Tremain's father and stepfather.
She maybe owes more than she will admit to the way these three handled her childhood.