J'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
Jan 15, 11

Read in January, 2011

Eh. I picked it up out of curiosity, read the part about Una Troubridge and Radclyffe Hall, which was interesting because hey, a practically out lesbian couple in the early 20th century? That's fascinating stuff. Went on to the next chapter, about a triad between a feminist author, an academic, and the best friend of the feminist author, and gradually realized that honestly, the book is pretty trashy. Also, it was sort of funny, in a not-funny-at-all kind of way, how Roiphe kept blaming the most feminine member of these relationships for their downfall. Radclyffe Hall was a jerk and a philanderer, but by gar, it was Una Troubridge's relentless domesticity and refusal to be cheated on gracefully that ruined the relationship! Vera Brittain? How dare she want her husband to respectfully engage with her just as he did before they were married, rather than asking her to schedule a conversation with him!

But then, you know, a quick Google search reveals that Katie Roiphe is virulently, if sneakily, misogynist herself, so in retrospect, there should've been no surprises. Hindsight is always 20/20.

Honestly, given the chatty, gossip-rag tone and the weird twisting of blame, I don't know how trustworthy this book would be even if you were a scholar of early 20th century authors. There's probably better out there. I urge you to seek it instead.
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