Magyar gentleman artist serves as an officer in the first major battles on the eastern front in late summer 1914. He survives, but his entire life isMagyar gentleman artist serves as an officer in the first major battles on the eastern front in late summer 1914. He survives, but his entire life is changed forever.
This is a newly discovered memoir which sheds light on the vanished way of life of high bourgeois society in "Royal" Hungary. It has been beautifully translated into English by the author's grandson, and was published for the first time anywhere in the world in 2014, by the exemplary NYRB Press. The subtlety took me by surprise. ...more
Rowse (1903-1997) was a prickly Oxford don, a controversialist "character" in university politics for several generations. His memories of a rural chiRowse (1903-1997) was a prickly Oxford don, a controversialist "character" in university politics for several generations. His memories of a rural childhood are valuable for their Cornish, working-class perspective: a welcome change from the more standard "horrors of public school" memoir. But he _does_ go on!...more
Charming, affable, and short - not in any sense a full memoir of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, but rather sketches from his interesting and varied lifeCharming, affable, and short - not in any sense a full memoir of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, but rather sketches from his interesting and varied life (1920-2004).
The Dukes of Devonshire - Cavendish family - should not be considered in the same class as the "Downton Abbey" people - they are a few levels above that. Definitely "silver spoon" category. But the Cavendishes of the 20th century made a series of very interesting marriages, so the 11th Duke has a wide variety of diverse and unexpected relations to write about.
He himself married Deborah "Debo" Mitford, the youngest and best-adjusted of the Mitford girls. Sadly, in the book he doesn't really address what it was like to have married into such a well-publicized, talented, and often quarrelsome family. "Debo" wrote a number of memoirs from her own perspective, but it would have been interesting to hear from her husband Andrew's point of view.
On the positive side, he does write short vignettes about most of his own relatives. Enjoyment in this book is helped by a mastery of twentieth century British genealogy - or, lacking that, ready access to Wikipedia. His mother was a Cecil, a daughter of the 4th Marquess of Salisbury, and sister to famous biographer and literary maven Lord David Cecil.
One of his paternal aunts, Lady Dorothy Cavendish, was the unhappy wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Moreover, his paternal uncle Lord Charles Cavendish married Fred Astaire's sister and dance partner Adele.
Andrew's older brother "Billy" Hartington married Kathleen Kennedy, the oldest daughter of US Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, and sister of political siblings John, Bobby, and Ted.
And his sister, Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, became the "long-term companion" of Britain's Poet Laureate John Betjeman.
The 11th Duke's gentle humor is one of the best things about his book. There are frequent "one-line" asides that epitomize classic British understatement or irony. I frequently laughed out loud at his wry observations. For example, of his time during World War II at Sandhurst, Britain's prestigious officer training college, Devonshire writes: "Though the PT [physical training] and drill sessions were not my idea of fun, much of the other work was interesting. We were taught military strategy and tactics, which involved exercises riding bicycles through the Surrey countryside and finishing up at a pub."...more
I have read two of Winterson's novels and didn't really think that either of them was particularly memorable, but I found this memoir to be absolutelyI have read two of Winterson's novels and didn't really think that either of them was particularly memorable, but I found this memoir to be absolutely compelling. She gives an absolutely memorable account of what it was like to grow up poor and Pentecostal in the North of England, making this one of the very best pieces of autobiographical writing from contemporary Britain....more
Beautifully written memoir of a Gaelic poet's upbringing - in the 1960s - in a remote and traditional village in the northwest corner of Ireland (CounBeautifully written memoir of a Gaelic poet's upbringing - in the 1960s - in a remote and traditional village in the northwest corner of Ireland (County Donegal). O'Searcaigh writes about the gradual awakening of his poetic voice, and also his tentative explorations of homosexuality, first in rural Ireland and later in the metropole of London. ...more