O DREAMS, O DESTINATIONS by Phyllis Bentley

O DREAMS, O DESTINATIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An English novelist, whose major body of work has shared with her readers the whole panorama of the textile industry in her own West Riding, here tells in a candid autobiography her own story, set against this background. What one suspected from her novels is borne out; here in her family's experience as textile manufacturers, in her intimate knowledge of the ups and downs of the whole area as tariffs and depressions threatened bankruptcy and dissolution for a vast number of textile people, is the foundation on which her novels are built -- here too recognizable characters and incidents. A good proportion of this book is actually a record of three quarters of a century of social change, compassing two wars. Only too often autobiography seems set in a vacuum. This book goes to the opposite extreme- the Yorkshire picture almost outweighs the personal story. And yet the woman herself emerges --and the child that she was, feeling herself secure only in relation to her family, and later to some of her friends and her school contacts; her growing up years and slow acceptance of a relationship with the larger world into which her writing thrust her. The chapters devoted to her American experiences- while sparse in detail- will help her American readers recognize the gaps created by social mores of two similar but divergent civilizations. Vivid glimpses of her literary milieu, chiefly in Britain, and of her close friends- Winifred Holtby, Barbara Clark, Vera Brittain, Lettice Cooper- to name the closest, reveal much that is part of her own awakening. Some will compare- or perhaps more accurately-contrast her sensitive handling of an often difficult relationship with her mother with Virgilia Peterson's approach to the parallel situation. But here is no emotional outpouring, rather is it a restrained and dignified and often movingly honest sharing of a mature writer's self portrait.

Publisher: Macmillan