FRAGMENTS OF STAINED GLASS by Claire Nicolas White

FRAGMENTS OF STAINED GLASS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A vivid, dreamy voyage through novelist/poet White's prewar European childhood, American adolescence, and worldly adulthood. While the bulk of this captivating autobiography is factual, White carefully notes that some details have been fictionalized. Among the facts and fictions are stunning glimpses into the lives of her bohemian parents (including the open marriage, complete with mÇnage Ö trois arrangement, between her father, a stained-glass artist, and her mother, a sculptor), grandparents, and assorted idiosyncratic family friends. Less impressionistic but equally enchanting are her postchildhood recollections, including the family's 1939 flight to New York and Claire's rapid transformation from sheltered European child to sophisticated American teen (though, in describing herself as a "hyphen," she maintains her ongoing ties to both Old and New World). While many of her reminiscences are touching, one of the most poignant involves her post-Smith College trip to California, where she visited her aunt Maria and her uncle Aldous (Huxley); another concerns her daughter, Natalie (about whom she says, ". . .old people who saw her said, 'She is like a candle,' and began to cry for no reason, remembering what they had forgotten to be"). After Natalie's tragic early death, White explains how her daughter lingered to "haunt" the family home: ". . .we must at least be allowed our ghost. We have a right to it." Like her mother and aunt, Claire went on to marry an artist (sculptor Robert White) and to become "the handmaiden of genius," but in doing so, she did not sacrifice her own talent. Here, she has combined fragmented memories to form a delicate, colorful portrait.

ISBN: 916515-52-4
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