KATHARINE AND E.B. WHITE: An Affectionate Memoir by Isabel Russell

KATHARINE AND E.B. WHITE: An Affectionate Memoir

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Russell, who spent eight years typing, filing, and listening to the bons mots, sharp remarks, and anecdotes of E.B. and Katharine White, balances delicately the discretion and loyalty of a secretary with the honesty of a good writer. Her memoir proves vivid and moving not just for fans of the Whites, but also for anyone who has experienced either directly or indirectly the frustrations and poignancy of an aging, loving couple. When she first arrived, Russell was star-struck (""jammy""--as the sharp-tongued Mrs. White noted after the initial interview). And, here, she never completely loses this quality, especially about E.B., but her enthusiasm and affection make her memoir sensitive, never gushy. Her admiration also is tempered by the difficulties of serving the endless, often contradictory demands of strong-willed, cantankerous, often forgetful Katharine. Meanwhile, E.B.'s pithy criticisms were usually appreciated by Russell, as they always have been by readers of his New Yorker ""Newsbreaks,"" but occasionally he could make his secretary feel like a schoolgirl. Fortunately, she kept a record of many of her exchanges, spoken and written, and they are here in all their wonderful wit. Russell left the Whites shortly before Mrs. White's death, coming back briefly to help E.B. sort out her papers. A delightful and loving account.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1988
Publisher: Norton