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Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company (Lost Generation Trilogy #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  221 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Avant-garde Paris comes to life in this “meticulous and loving reconstruction of the period” (The New York Times Book Review)

On almost every Saturday of the first half of the twentieth century, Gertrude Stein would open her door to the likes of Picasso and Matisse, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Cocteau and Apollinaire, welcoming them into a salon alive with vivid avant-garde p
Paperback, 576 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published November 28th 1982)
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Mikey B.
An interesting biography of this American who left her country for France at the turn of the century. Gertrude Stein returned only once to the United States as part of a book promotion tour. She stayed in France until her death in 1946 – she is buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

She met several people during her life’s journey – most of who were connected with the arts like Picasso, Matisse, Erik Satie, F. Scott Fitzgerald – the list goes on. She was also a collector –but she could only
Not sure where to start with this book - it sort of came at me on many different levels. First, it was a little more difficult read than most of the biographies we get today. It was pretty scholarly and very thorough, but it was also extremely interesting. For those who haven't gone beyond " . . . a rose is a rose is a rose . . .," this book will open your eyes to the life of a very interesting thinker and writer. As others have stated, Stein comes off as being very ego-centric - she seems to ha ...more
1974. Many parts were interesting. A concise edition would make a good read [tho I suppose not everyone would agree on which parts could be cut]

Enough things to ponder in the book - being independently wealthy [though the wealth was limited] and how lucky [I suppose] Gertrude and her brother Leo were that elder brother Michael was so competent in managing the inheritance and sending them their monthly allowances and extra money when needed. Ponder how different life would have been if this finan
Joe Mossa

biographers must work tremendously hard for little credit or money. this bio has more detail than i need and yet i enjoyed it. i had to skip many parts cause i wanted to hear the narrative. it reads like a 'whos whos' of early 20th century artists and writers. look at the index in the back and see the many famous people that gertrude and her 40 year partner knew,well. she compares herself to joyce but i think they are totally different. when scholars study joyce they can understand his ULYSSES
Charmed Circle was written in 1974, (and I was reading a first edition paperback), so it does contain a lot of dated language. (I don't think anyone would call Richard Wright a "Negro author" today.)

Gertrude Stein is a very complex character, and her work is extraordinarily difficult to navigate. Most people know the line of her poetry "Rose is a Rose is a rose is a rose," but beyond that few people know who she is today. She spent most of her life in France, among an incredible circle of writer
I don't want to like Gertrude Stein, but I can't help it. Her conceit and self-obsession annoy me, but I love the way that it just seems to work for her. I don't like her naivety and total oblivion to the world around her, but at the same time I respect the way that she lives her life exactly the way that she wants to. This book interested me mainly because of the crazy assortment of people that seemed to always flock to her, although I don't really understand why they did. I think that I would' ...more
This was a very well written and interesting account of Gertrude Stein's life and relationships with so many famous authors, artists, collectors, and musicians. It gives a pretty interesting picture of life in France between (and during) the world wars as well as communications with America during those times.

It was fascinating to read accounts of such famous icons as Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, etc.

I finished this book (which has many pictures in it as well) just in time to see an exhibit at
Which is more plodding and ponderous, the author or Gertrude Stein? I quit reading this lumbering giant of a book at page 300, in part because I disliked the characters (Gertrude's self-obsession and bloated ego) and inaccurate descriptions of others. For instance, on page 279 Natalie Clifford Barney is "a wealthy American widow." This statement almost closed the book for me, because it implies that she inherited her financial independence from a husband. This led me to question the validity of ...more
This book was a great biography detailing the life of Gertrude Stein, and also the lives of her friends including Alice Toklas, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. The author, James Mellow, said he wanted to show the tender side of Stein, and he achieved that goal in describing the ways she encouraged and supported young artists and writers, but he was also not reluctant to show her egotistical side to give a more complete portrait of this strong, intelligent, and independent woman.
Her life was so so so interesting! she one of the first out and proud lesbians of the world, she was friends and the first supporters of Matisse and Picasso, she knew all of the avant garde writers, publishers and artists of france, she had weekly salons in her art filled, Latin Quarter apartment... she was awesome. but this book is so dry and boring and plodding, I couldn't finish it. Definitally read a biography of her, because she's the bomb, but do not read this one.
It's good, if you're interested in Gertrude Stein. I am enough. It does a good job of dealing with her life and writing. But, I wouldn't suggest that you rush right out to read it if you're ennhh about her. If you like literary circle stuff and bios, go furth. If not, skip.
So many famous people move in and out and in and out of this book. What a world this American woman made for herself. It was fun to travel in it.
Florine Porter
Mar 25, 2014 Florine Porter is currently reading it
A bit wordy but interesting if you want to learn more about artists and writers of the time.
One of my favorite books -- caused me to become interested in this period many years ago!!
It was a fun place to visit. I think everyone should stop by!
Jan 26, 2011 Velvetink marked it as to-read
Shelves: wishlist, biography
Mentioned in The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin.
Diane Smith
couldnt get through this book-boring
Elaine Blodgett
Tremendously informative and revealing.
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  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties
  • Women of the Left Bank
  • Kiki's Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930
  • Paris Was a Woman: Portraits from the Left Bank
  • Paris Noir: African-Americans in the City of Light
  • Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
  • Wild Heart: A Life: Natalie Clifford Barney and the Decadence of Literary Paris
  • Hemingway: The Paris Years
  • Bohemian Paris: Picasso, Modigliani, Matisse and the Birth of Modern Art
  • Paris France
  • Exile's Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s
  • Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy: A Lost Generation Love Story
  • Memoirs of Montparnasse
  • Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho, and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks
  • The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Becoming Modern: The Life of Mina Loy

Other Books in the Series

Lost Generation Trilogy (3 books)
  • Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
  • Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences
Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences Invented Lives: F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Walker Evans Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times Charmed Circle Part 2

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