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Miranda Seymour

Autor(a) de Mary Shelley

25+ Works 1,095 Membros 27 Críticas

About the Author

Miranda Seymour is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling works of fiction and nonfiction, including biographies of Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, Henry James, and, most recently, the pioneer French racing driver Helle Nice. She lives in England.

Includes the name: Miranda Seymour

Image credit: Miranda Seymour

Obras por Miranda Seymour

Associated Works

Frankenstein (1818) — Introdução, algumas edições42,056 exemplares
Good-Bye to All That: An Autobiography (1929) — Introdução, algumas edições3,689 exemplares
Slightly Foxed 63: Adrift on the Tides of War (2019) — Contribuidor — 16 exemplares
Folio Magazine 2011 2 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



For years, I kept hearing about this Jean Rhys and this novel Wide Sargasso Sea. I found a copy of the novel and finally read it, riveted. I loved her reimagining of the ‘mad wife’ in Jane Eyre, Bronte’s story turned into a social commentary about colonialism and the rejection of female sexuality.

That was twenty years or so ago. I knew nothing more about Rhys when I picked up this new biography, I Used To Live Here Once by Miranda Seymour. Her portrait of Rhys is unforgettable and complex, the story of a woman born too soon, who lived passionately and in seclusion, married unwisely for love, plummeted from wealth to poverty, and rose to fame to forgotten to lionized.

Seymour writes that “Rhys often said that she wrote about herself because that was all she knew,” and throughout the biography she demonstrates how Rhys’ characters were born of her experience, but also that they are born of Rhys’ imagination, and are not autobiographical clones. Rhys took what she knew, her Dominican childhood, her young adulthood as a chorus girl on tour, her bohemian life in Paris, her love affairs and marriages, and turned it into dark stories that publishers found too raw, unfit for a woman writer’s pen.

We met a woman who is damaged but determined, who bends to her weaknesses and shows incredible strength. Her beauty and charm lured men to want to possess her, then her violent temper dealt out blows. She walked away from an education to pursue the stage and yet wrote what the BBC identified as one of the ‘top 100 most influential novels.’

Her life was almost incomprehensibly complicated! If anyone truly lived, it was Rhys. Over her long life she went mad and discarded friends and men, hobnobbed with so many important people! Like so many Lost Generation writers she struggled with alcoholism, drug dependency and depression. She suffered accidents, underwent abortions, and was hospitalized for mental breakdown. No wonder she created unforgettable characters, women who contended with so much.

She was seventy-five years old when she published Wide Sargasso Sea in 1966. Rhys was ‘rediscovered’ by a new generation, finally found financial security, and unwelcomed fame. To the end of her life, she took care of her appearance, this petit blue-eyed, once blond-haired octogenarian, with her pink and white wigs and fashionable colorful clothes.

You won’t always like Jean Rhys. But you will be impressed by her resilience and determination.

Now, to read the rest of her work…

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
… (mais)
nancyadair | May 19, 2022 |
This is a dual biography of Annabella Milbanke and her daughter Ada Lovelace. Ada Lovelace is famous, and is the reason I wanted to read this book. Biographies of Ada don't talk much about her mother, other than to mention that she was married to Lord Byron, the marriage ended badly, and Annabella wanted to make sure that Ada didn't inherit her father's terrible qualities and therefore made sure she had good math tutors to keep her busy.

I'm sure that, like me, most readers who pick up this book will do so because they are interested in Ada. The author, however, is far more interested in Annabella. This can be a bit frustrating if you want to read about Ada, but lots of books have been written about Ada, and Annabella is actually a very interesting woman in her own right. Annabella very competently stood up for herself when it became clear that her marriage was a mistake and her husband was a madman. She consulted with lawyers to get out of the marriage, made sure she had clear legal grounds for doing so, and did everything in her power to secure the future of her daughter. She went on to become an education reformer, using her fortune to fund schools for poor children - she was decades ahead of her time in her ideas about education. She did encourage Ada to learn math, but also encouraged her to write poetry: she wanted to discourage any tendencies to madness or mercurialism that Ada might have inherited from her father, but she also encouraged Byron's good qualities in his daughter, including the incredible sense of imagination that made Ada into such a visionary.

The book tends to skim over Ada's relationship with Babbage, and assumes that the reader is more or less aware of Ada's contribution to the world of technology. Instead, it focuses on Ada's poor health, her relationships with friends and family, and her mercurial personality. If you're looking for analysis of why Ada is important, you will not find it in this book.

Ultimately, what Seymour strives to do in this book is to rescue Annabella's reputation: after her death, the world was still in love with Byron and Annabella had a reputation for being a horrible woman who couldn't appreciate what a wonderful man he was and who accused him of some unthinkable things. Seymour demonstrates convincingly that although Annabella could be stubborn and unforgiving, she was also generous, very intelligent, and wholly justified in leaving Byron (the relationship with Byron, full of incest, bouts of insanity, rape, and manipulation puts a lot of Gothic novels to shame).

The book tends to get bogged down in details... whole chapters are devoted to the development of friendships and business deals, and the events of those chapters are rarely placed in any context, so the reader is left to do their own analysis of why a particular friendship was worth including in such detail. This can make it tedious at times.

All in all, I'm glad I read this because it gives me a better understanding of who Ada was, and now I am aware of what a fascinating person Annabella was and how Ada would not have been so accomplished without her mother's encouragement. I do wish the book had been shorter and included more analysis instead of detailed chronologies of events.
… (mais)
Gwendydd | 2 outras críticas | Apr 25, 2020 |
History of Anglo-German relations, told through the stories of individual families
Kakania | 5 outras críticas | Oct 28, 2019 |



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