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
Well written memoir of a childhood spent in the autumnal glow of the Late Victorian aristocracy. Pleasingly free of sentimentality.
Lady Cynthia AsquitWell written memoir of a childhood spent in the autumnal glow of the Late Victorian aristocracy. Pleasingly free of sentimentality.
Lady Cynthia Asquith was the eldest daughter of Hugo Charteris, 11th Earl of Wemyss (1857-1937) and his wife Mary Wyndham – sister of Chief Secretary for Ireland George Wyndham.
The Charteris family was Scottish, but their primary residence was the lovely Tudor era mansion of Stanway, in Gloucestershire. It was in the Cotswolds, where it had originally been the Abbot’s residence in a one of the monasteries “dissolved” and re-allocated by King Henry VIII. (Later, Stanway was leased to family friend and “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie, for whom Lady Cynthia served as secretary for many years.
Her mother, Mary, Lady Wemyss (1862-1937) was one of the leading members of the social group “The Souls”. She was a warm hostess, and was particularly close to future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, with whom she corresponded frequently. Although the Wemyss family had multiple houses, and animals, and lived in an aristocratic manner, Lady Cynthia remembers that there was a constant concern for finances, and much discussion about the need for “retrenchment.” For example, all of the family, except for Lord Wemyss, travelled third class on trains. He had lost money on the stock exchange as a young man, and never really recovered financially.
Lady Cynthia was frequently the “sitter” for a number of prominent portrait artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She recollects memories of her encounters with a number of these “greats”: Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), and Augustus John (1878-1961). As a girl, she also met G.F. Watts (1817-1904), though she never sat for him. Later, she and her husband were good friends of painter and designer Rex Whistler (1905-1944); they spent a magical evening with Whistler shortly before his death in World War II.
Two of Lady Cynthia's brothers were killed in World War I, as was a brother-in-law, Raymond Asquith. She also bore sad memories of a very dear brother who died of scarlet fever at the age of 4. But Lady Cynthia doesn't dwell on the pain of family loss: the emphasis here is on childhood, and the tone certainly merits the adjective "haply". ...more