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The Furies

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  30 reviews
An exhilarating, fiercely honest, ultimately devastating book, The Furies confronts the claims of family and the lure of desire, the difficulties of independence, and the approach of death.

Janet Hobhouse's final testament is beautifully written, deeply felt, and above all utterly alive.
Paperback, 293 pages
Published September 30th 2004 by NYRB Classics (first published October 1st 1992)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  156 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Amer Ahmad
Shelves: own, covers, nyrb, fiction

Hobhouse's lyrical writing can't rescue her story from irrelevance. She never convinces us that this - the story of her childhood with a beautiful but sometimes inattentive and vacant mother whose love is alternately distant and suffocating; a sometimes genteel, sometimes borderline squalid poverty in Manhattan apartments; a fortuitous Oxford education, a series of boyfriends and lovers, a marriage to a wealthy Brit that falls apart, her mother's depression and suicide, her own illness - is a st
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unflinching and powerful autobiographical novel.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ho sempre pensato che per uno scrittore il libro pi�� difficile da affrontare sia quello dedicato alla propria vita, perch�� inevitabilmente si ritrova ���costretto��� a fare i conti con se stesso. Ne sono convinta ancor pi�� dopo aver terminato questo libro di Janet Hobhouse. Un ���memoriale��� -cos�� viene definito, nella breve e bellissima introduzione, da Philip Roth- attraverso il quale , la scrittrice ripercorre la sua vita, nel momento in cui di fronte all���inevitabile ���punto di arrivo ...more
Apr 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, novels
It's considered a novel, but "The Furies" is barely-veiled autobiography, published after the author's death. Janet Hobhouse is a beautiful writer -- there's an immodest loveliness to her prose that's reminiscent of Elizabeth Bowen or Rebecca West -- but elevating this book to "novel" status was a gesture of misplaced ambition. "The Furies" is a fairly standard account of a young woman's relationship with her troubled mother and intellectual and sexual coming-of-age, and while its lyrical self-a ...more
Luann Ritsema
Nov 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Brave. Devastating. Beautifully written. And unspeakably sad.
Robert Wechsler
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
The first half of Hobhouse’s unfinished, posthumous novel is a great work about childhood. It is written from the first-person view of a grown woman, but captures a child’s point of view in often gorgeous writing. The novel becomes more ordinary as the girl becomes a young woman, but there is still a good deal of excellent writing in the second half. Five stars for the first half, three for the second.
This text has it moments, but to tell you the truth there are so many books out there just not sure its worth reading again I feel indifferent. Its not bad or good its just is. I can't go any further than that.
Apr 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Did not have the charm of any other NYRB reissues I've read. I couldn't muster much empathy for the text; it felt sterile. Moving on to Middlemarch.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book starts as the author’s biography but, in the end, it’s more her mother’s story. Sadly, none
Of their lives was worth telling. They were ordinary people with ordinary problems, just slightly more beautiful (Bett) or richer (Ned and Helen....but why on earth change all the names, by the way?) than the average. Disappointing.
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
I loved this book madly.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb
Janet Hobhouse's autobiographical novel was first published just after her death - although I couldn't detect anything unfinished about her story - she died before doing her final edit. It follows the life of the protagonist Helen, centring on her fractured relationship with her mother and its impact on her life: through her youth to Oxford, a less than happy marriage, and a not so successful divorce. Helen staves off melancholy and drives down her anger through a combination of Lithium and ill- ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am not sure I have ever read such an uncompromisingly honest account of the struggle to overcome pain. Hobhouse delves into her own experiences with such unsentimental honesty that she leaves the reader breathless, yet does so with wit and startlingly evocative language. She was still revising it when she died, but I agree with the quotation from Philip Roth (who makes an appearance in the book as the older writer with whom Hobhouse had an affair) that the book is "a considerable moral as well ...more
Jul 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Altho billed as a novel, this is really a thinly veiled memoir with changed names. The story follows the author/narrator's erratic yet sometimes joyful childhood in New York and her intense relationship with her beautiful, vivacious, yet troubled single mother and how their relationship later evolves. Not an easy read but well worthwhile. It's quite easy to pick out which character is her representation of Philip Roth!
Apr 26, 2009 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riley by: Suzie
Shelves: 2009
The writing was beautiful, in terms of the use of words and language, but the story just moves SO slowly. About 3/5 of the way through, I gave up. I skimmed the rest of the novel just to understand what happens, but I could not keep forcing myself to slog through (even though I wanted to, for Suzie's sake, since she recommended it to me).
This is quite well written and engaging but, as a memoir disguised as a novel, it follows the I grew-I developed-I changed formula without much of a compelling hook. A reader goes for a book like this mostly if s/he has some inherent interest in the subject but I didn't know Janet Hobhouse from shinola. Sure, now I do, but maybe I should have read her biography of Gertrude Stein instead.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly honest and well-written book - the push and pull of family dynamics is portrayed so vividly that you understand where each character is coming from but have some empathy for each throughout the story. Such a shame Hobhouse died before finishing it, although that does not affect the storyline at all. I would have liked to read other things by her!
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's amazing to read a book the suffices so much on summary, yet brings us into such a fine grain of emotional detail. There's such joy in this book, such powerful portraits, followed by such jaw dropping tragedy.
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
More memoir than fiction, The Furies is an entirely unsentimental account of the frictions and bonds between mothers and daughters. This one leaves behind a big red mark and I mean that in a good way.
Wanda Brenni
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
An author I didn't know; a book I picked up by chance; turbulent, exposive, raw well written full of grief and dysfunction, of love, of all the frailities that can surround a life, of those most close and that difficulty in connection.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
i liked the book. you might think the story took a bit too long to unfold, but i think it covered such a long stretch of time, it was needed. i really enjoyed learning about new york from years ago and how this family (and i am sure many others) went from being very wealthy to almost destitute.
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Archetypal linial dysfunction enveloped in beautiful prose, waxing with metaphors of the duality of existence.
Elizabeth Bradley
so far, a strange amalgam of Mona Simpson, Darcy O'Brian, and "Gypsy" meets "Wonderful Town" - - I'm not in love and I so very much want to be...
Vicky Griva
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely brilliantly written. Such a sense of self-awareness this books has, it is scary, breathtaking and somehow peaceful.
A well written but sad, tragic memoir/novel written by Janet Hobhouse while she was dying of cancer.
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, donne
l'ho comprato a scatola chiusa perché questa collana della bur mi piace smodatamente. è un libro autobiografico, duro, avvincente, tristissimo. è un libro che ho amato molto- per donne, ma non solo.
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A perceptive & beautiful memoir of a painful life. I suspect this one will stick with me.
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Painful. wonderfully written, but oh so painful
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
One of the best NYRB books I've read. It combined a vivid account of life in the early twentieth century with an affective narrative about womanhood and the ties that bind.
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Need to read again later. I love it too much and I didnt even want to get past the first ten pages. I will revisit...
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Phenomenally eloquent and poignant. Too bad Hobhouse died unnecessarily young.
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NYRB Classics: The Furies, by Janet Hobhouse 6 21 May 29, 2014 03:05PM  

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