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Gertrude and Alice

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  165 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Gertrude Stein and Alice Babette Toklas met on September 8, 1907, in Paris, and remained together from that day until Gertrude's death in 1946. They became a legendary couple, photographed by Stieglitz, Man Ray & Cecil Beaton, painted by Picasso, and written about in the works of Hemingway, Paul Bowles and Sylvia Beach. Gertrude and Alice is the highly acclaimed story ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published 2000 by Phoenix (first published 1991)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is the third of the voyeuristic readings I've been doing on these gay lovers of long ago, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. After reading "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" (by Gertrude) and "Staying on Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas" (by Alice) I got the impression that it was more of a platonic, literary partnership between the couple. I was mistaken. They did have lots of sex. Gertrude was the "husband" and Alice called her "lovey"; while Alice was the wife and Gertrude's term o ...more
A tight overview without excess embroidery. My favorite gang is all here: Carl Van Vechten, Mabel Dodge, Robert McAlmon. Now what was Janet Malcolm's beef about Getting Gertie's Garter? Souhami, whose title was swiped by Malcolm, is an elegant writer and, unlike Malcolm, she doesnt crave attention.
Suzanne Stroh
The first time I ever got thrown out of a university library, it was for uncontrollable laughter while reading The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. The second time, ditto while reading this biography of Stein's and Toklas's marriage by Diana Souhami.

There's something so hilarious about this lifelong matchup of polar opposites who were connected at the hip since pretty much the day the two American rebels met in Paris. That was shortly after the San Francisco earthquake, back
Joanne Annabannabobanna
Apr 30, 2015 Joanne Annabannabobanna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Curiosity seekers, standard-poodle lovers, old lesbians.
Recommended to Joanne by: Another Random Selection
Where the phrase "Don't have a cow" originates lol.

I'd become irritated by enough Gertrude Stein references already when I stumbled across this book. Having eaten the brownies referenced by Alice's name (she was appalled by the recipe's attribution) and curious about the development of the modern 'artiste' I became more fascinated by these two women and the dynamic influence Stein had during this era of much foment. I was a fly on the wall reading the author's reconstruction of how the unusual p
Mar 06, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (really by Gertrude Stein), Staying on Alone, a collection of Alice's letters from the long years she lived on after Gertrude's death, and the Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company by James Mellow, a really wonderful portrait of the life and times of Gertrude Stein (and the people she and Alice knew, sometimes loved, often quarreled with). I have read Three Lives by Stein, admittedly her most accessible work, and have made forays into some of t ...more
Mar 13, 2008 Kirk rated it liked it
Very readable biography of this dynamic Sapphic duo. Souhami isn't as exhaustive as James Mellow in CHARMED CIRCLE or as "investigative" as Janet Malcolm in TWO LIVES; this is biography as straightforward narrative, without the day-by-day calendarisms that happen when a writer tries to be a completist or the "meta-" inflections that occur when she uses a life as an allegory of writing biography. If there's nothing groundbreaking here, the author does do a nice job of taking "Pussy" and "Baby"'s ...more
I never liked Gertrude Stein -- maybe because of what Hemingway wrote about her. I like her even less now, having read this very good biography. I don't like Alice Toklas either. Nevertheless, this book was interesting and a pleasure to read, and that's unusual because I tend to want to like the people I read about -- feeling that when I am reading about them, I'm spending time with them. The two were interesting characters and their relationship was noteworthy and I guess I always enjoy being t ...more
Erika Nerdypants
Although I found Getrude and Alice's life together pretty boring, I still learned a lot from this book. Art and culture in the 20th century, Picasso was a great friend of theirs and they accumulated valuable paintings by him when his paintings were still largely unknown. Not too much info on their personal lives, none of their correspondence to each other was included, but that may have been because it was destroyed on the day of Gertrude's funeral. I'm not sure what the reason for that was, but ...more
Dec 17, 2010 Desiree rated it liked it
I had no idea who Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas were beyond a vague recognition of their names prior to reading this book. Now, I wonder how that was possible. Gertrude Stein was a literary movement.

I thought this biography had a relatively smooth narrative which kept me interested and never bored. The book spans the life of both Gertrude and Alice and is relatively thin for that length of time. Accordingly, the book proves to be only an introduction to the very interesting life these two peo
Mar 08, 2010 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
extremely interesting, not sure if Gertrude Stein was a genius or a megalomaniac, and not sure if Alice B Toklas was a sycophant or the woman behind the 'man', and not sure if anyone really knows, but they had a fascinating existence, pissing people off and living for themselves. Not a brilliant exercise in writing, but a great read nonetheless
Nov 23, 2008 Julene rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: to anyone interested in this historical figure
I melded my reading and writing based on Gertrude Stein's work by reading this biography that I found it a second hand store. It was the most enjoyable to read, lively and seemed to capture the life of both of these strong women. It was easier reading than Gertrude's writing. It was a great complement.
Frankie Reeves
May 07, 2013 Frankie Reeves rated it really liked it
This book will always be special to me for sparking my love for both of these amazing women, but especially for Gertrude Stein's practice: genius is almost an understatement. A well researched, detailed and entertaining read through the lives of one of the greatest couples to have ever lived.
Sep 11, 2010 Misty rated it it was ok
I read this book so long ago but I do remember that it was facinating learning about these two women and thier unique lives.
Jan 03, 2011 Lilyan rated it liked it
Fun read. Great insights about the era and about art collections.
Marian Ferguson
Aug 07, 2011 Marian Ferguson rated it liked it
Thorough background, may entice me to read their letters.
Jun 09, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers who enjoy the period in France, writers, artists, historians.
Recommended to David by: Bought in auction.
Shelves: biography
What a wonderfully written, intelligent and sensible story of the lives of two of the most famous women of the last century. When I finished, I found a strange irony in the fact that their lives have played an important part in my life. In 1967 when I went off to Vietnam, Alice died and was buried in Pere Lachaise next to Gertrude. Just as I was starting my life as a man, they ended theirs as the hostesses with the most in Paris. It's true they literally knew everyone in art and literature. Thei ...more
Jul 18, 2013 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-lovers
I was completely wrapped up in this book. These were two really fascinating women! However, upon reading the excerpts from Stein's writings, I had to agree with many of the publishers who rejected the materials she submitted. Still, what a time it must have been to be alive, free and relatively prosperous! Gertrude Stein certainly lived her life to the fullest. I think she would have been interesting to know, yet I know I'd be relegated to the kitchen with the other wives and Alice Toklas, who I ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Amy is currently reading it
So far so FUNNY
May 08, 2010 Nina rated it it was ok
Although not a riveting book, I enjoyed learning more about the lives of these two- their friends, their interest in art, and, later, their lives during the war. If I understood or enjoyed Gertrude's writing more, I would certainly have enjoyed the book more. But, there were a lot of excerpts of her writings, which I find rambling, and I skipped over many of them.
Jun 19, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
This was an interesting biography about the life of author Gertrude Stein and her life partner, Alice B. Toklas. They were very quirky and I would only recommend the book as a period piece, as it doesn't go into much detail about them personally - mostly an overview of their life in Europe and the publication process of her books.
Nov 19, 2012 Jacqueline rated it really liked it
much better than souhami's "gluck" - which is a shame because i SO want to fall in love with gluck the way i've loved G&A all these years.
Dec 15, 2008 Amoyra is currently reading it
I hope this stops looking like a patchwork of journal entries real soon...but then, so far, Gertrude is only 12.
Jack Bates
Jack Bates rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2016
Trudy A Begg
Trudy A Begg rated it it was amazing
Sep 29, 2016
K. A. MacKinnon
K. A. MacKinnon marked it as to-read
Sep 27, 2016
Emma marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2016
Meneerjanssen marked it as to-read
Sep 22, 2016
Fernanda Argento
Fernanda Argento marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2016
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Diana Souhami was brought up in London and studied philosophy at Hull University. She worked in the publications department of the BBC before turning to biography. In 1986 she was approached by Pandora Press and received a commission to write a biography of Hannah Gluckstein. Souhami became a full-time writer publishing biographies which mostly explore the most influential and intriguing of 20th c ...more
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