MEMOIRS OF LADY OTTOLINE MORRELL: A Study in Friendship by Robert- Ed. Gathorne-Hardy


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A frail but very luminous work. Its picture of the Edwardian and pre-WWI world of London society and culture is in many ways the most intimate and affecting we have. The memoirist is Lady Ottoline Morrell, that strange, searching patroness of the arts whose Bedford Square salon gathered about her the great figures of the day. The style- so faint, so feminine, rather like wind print on sand- is just the sort to put off the strong-minded. A pity, for much here is revelatory, wise and significant. Indeed unless we miss our guess these reminiscences- a second and concluding volume is due shortly- should become a sort of classic; much better, for instance, than the contributions of her contemporaries, Margot Asquith and Lady Duff Cooper. The portraits of people like Augustus John, Lawrence, Russell, Henry James, Virginia Woolf Lytton Strachey and so forth are drawn with great charm, candor and a sly, sylphic humer. And about her personal life she appears to conceal nothing, from the sometimes dismaying relationship with her aristocratic but philistine family to her marriage with Philip Morrell and his entry into politics. Over-lyrical in spots and a little dated, it's true; still it would be hard to think of a more genuine, more generous introduction to an era and a life.

Publisher: Knopf