MY GRANDMOTHERS AND I by Diana Holman-Hunt


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Just like a parcel"" back and forth between her two grandmothers- this is the record of a girlhood spent in transit-with no mention of her mother and only infrequent reminders of her negligent, improvident father- stationed in India. (There's a ""leper skin"" for her fifth birthday.) With her grandmother Freeman, in the country, she leads a life of conformity and discipline in the stringent household of a woman who demanded perfection and whose decrescendo of disapproval ranged from ""unsuitable"" to ""disastrous"". In London, with her father's mother, the widow of the pre- Raphaelite painter Holman-Hunt, she spent weeks in the ""frowsty"", dark house which was a shrine to the dead man-- a clutter of paintings, ostrich eggs, and peacock feathers, a staffless establishment run along very different lines: an indifference to cleanliness (hot baths are devitalizing), steam heat, and food (she often went hungry); a respect for modesty and foreign languages; and a reverence, close to canonization, for the dead painter. There are changes in the years to come; she is sent away to school- and removed by her father- at her request; her grandmother Freeman dies; and her other ""Grand"", her mind failing, is run over-- so that at the close of these episodes she is againringing doorbells... A period portrait filled with many telling details- this retains its youthful candor and resilience and is a knowing, winning reminiscence.

Publisher: Norton