Zen Cho's Reviews > Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939

Uncommon Arrangements by Katie Roiphe
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's review
Apr 26, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: real-people, interwar

Celebrity gossip with a patina of literary scholarship. I enjoyed reading it and found the writing fluid and reasonably intelligent. But it was from a staunchly heteronormative, conventional viewpoint; you kind of know from the outset that Roiphe's not going to say anything challenging or useful about marriage or gender roles, when she describes marriage as something "most of us" experience in the preface. Slightly boggled by her offhand dismissal of the discrimination faced by lesbians in early 20th-century Europe; less boggled, because unsurprised, by the whiteness of the narration (black South African guests at a dinner party described as "exotic"; no comment at all on Radclyffe Hall's habit of referring to her Russian girlfriend as "chinky eyed").

Still, it was precisely what I wanted to read -- something like Hello! but more interesting. Also confirmed the fact that I need to pick up Virginia Woolf's diaries/letters; she's so deliciously gossipy. One of those people who thinks of interesting ways to describe other people.
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