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Painted Shadow: The Life of Vivienne Eliot, First Wife of T. S. Eliot

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  8 reviews
By the time Vivienne Eliot was committed to an asylum for what would be the final nine years of her life, she had been abandoned by her husband T.S. Eliot and shunned by literary London. Yet Vivienne was neither insane nor insignificant. She generously collaborated in her husband’s literary efforts, taking dictation, editing his drafts, and writing articles for his magazin ...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Anchor (first published October 25th 2001)
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I don't know what people expect to find when they come across this work and decide to be interested in it. It's not triumphant. It's not original. You'll start in a suppressed and uncomfortable place and end in one differently suppressed and more finally uncomfortable with all the White Women Problems as exemplified by Rhys and Plath and the ignorance of Jane Eyre. Sure, the gory details of a bildungsroman that happened to burgeon into the Bloomsbury group with its fascists and its anti-Semitics ...more
I used to want to be reincarnated as part of the Bloomsbury Group. I've read a lot of books by and about them. They seemed such a free and fascinating lot. If half of what Painted Shadow says is true, I am forever disabused of that idea. Nasty, back-biting crew.

There are some writers who cannot bear to omit a single bit of the research they've done. Seymour-Jones appears to be one of these. I learned way more than I wanted to know about everyone and everything surrounding Vivienne Eliot. Sometim
Carol Bachofner
Oct 28, 2007 Carol Bachofner rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of biography/poets
Shelves: biography
This very frank biography of Vivienne Eliot is an eye-opener. I read this in London while there on a study abroad session. It made me question everything I thought I knew about TS Eliot and Ezra Pound. It is also a very poignant picture of what women of Vivienne's day suffered (in silence often) in terms of how their mental health was wrongly described by the men around them.
I have a thing about T S Eliot, I admit. I got a kick out of reading the source of a lot of his poetry: whole phrases lifted out of other people's speech. I enjoyed the gossip as well about the Bloomsbury group. They were awfully busy, old fellow, mostly screwing each other.
Bernadette Calonego
If I were an aficionado of dead British and American literati, I would have given this book 5 stars. Because in that case, I would have licked up all the immensely detailed descriptions of the famous poets and writers from Virgina Woolf to Ezra Pound.

But I really wanted to know more about Vivienne Eliot, the first wife of American-British poet T.S. Eliot. She deserves being written about, as this intriguing and talented woman was locked away in a psychiatric clinic by her husband (they never div
I really hate not finishing books that I start, but to be honest, I'm about 65 pages in and probably won't finish. I started regretting the purchase about 12 pages in, and it has failed to convince me otherwise. As other critics have noted, "Painted Shadow" seems a fair description of Seymour-Jones' treatment of the subject. Poorly organized and with no coherent line of argument, the episodes she imagines contain little relevant support from her research; in fact, her claims often remain unsubst ...more
The first half of the book drags with a lot more trivia than I really need to know.
a remarkable and tragic woman
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Carole Seymour-Jones was born in North Wales.
Educated at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and Sussex University, she became the acclaimed biographer of Beatrice Webb, Simone de Beauvoir and Vivienne Eliot, while her most recent book examined the life of Anglo-French SOE agent Pearl Witherington. She cited fellow biographers Richard Holmes and Hermione Lee, plus historian Antony Beevor, among her influe
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