THE OTHER WOMAN: A Life of Violet Trefusis by Philippe & John Phillips Jullian
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THE OTHER WOMAN: A Life of Violet Trefusis

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Philippe Jullian has been collecting extravagant aesthetes of the period and writing about them in an informed and attuned fashion; John Phillips became the literary heir of Violet Trefusis, and had access to her letters--a selection is appended. Both knew Violet but have not intruded in their biography of the little girl who ""rolled her hoops with a sceptre,"" as Cocteau aptly remarked: her overwhelming mother was Edward VII's ""queen incognita."" Growing up in an era which not only sanctioned but sponsored liaisons amoureuses--though not homosexual ones--Violet emerged as a flagrantly rebellious, romantic young woman. The affair with Vita would be for both the love of their lifetimes--the ""appel a l'amour"" is heard forty years later. This was ""meticulously traced"" (the authors) by Nigel Nicolson in Portrait of a Marriage (1973); here it is confined to three chapters of bouffant passion and farce with a ""weepy"" Harold Nicolson and a weak and exhausted Denys Trefusis in the wings. For the most part, Violet appears as the social and literary figure she became in Paris: writing accomplished novels; cultivating Proust, Colette, Cocteau among many others; rebuffing Gertrude Stein with ""a pose is a pose is a pose""; surrounded through the years by male lovers who became ""nephews"" until she exited with her own epitaph, ""She Withdrew."" What a spendthrift, chaotic, ambiguous, elated, miserable woman she was--believing until the end in the ""ideal love"" she only experienced once.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1976
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin