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Claire Tomalin

Autor(a) de Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self

18+ Works 6,796 Membros 144 Críticas 22 Favorited

About the Author

Obras por Claire Tomalin

Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2002) 1,725 exemplares
Jane Austen: A Life (1997) — Autor — 1,603 exemplares
Charles Dickens: A Life (2011) 919 exemplares
Thomas Hardy (2006) 717 exemplares
Katherine Mansfield: a secret life (1987) 247 exemplares
A Life of My Own (2017) 181 exemplares
The Garden Party and Other Stories (Everyman Selected) (1983) — Editor — 73 exemplares
Young Bysshe (Pocket Penguins) (2005) 62 exemplares
Shelley and His World (1980) 46 exemplares
The Winter Wife (1991) 8 exemplares

Associated Works

Maurice, or the Fisher's Cot: A Long-Lost Tale (1998) — Introdução, algumas edições127 exemplares
The Poems of Thomas Hardy (2007) — Editor — 37 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum




I have previously hugely enjoyed Tomalin’s biographies of Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft and the young H.G. Wells, so I had pretty high hopes for this autobiography, published in 2017 when she was already 84 (she turned 90 in June). And it pretty much fulfilled them.

Tomalin is the daughter of an English musician and a French writer, who married too young and were already on the verge of separation when she was conceived. She too married young, finding a journalist chap while a student at Cambridge, and the relationship deteriorated into on-again-off-again until he was killed covering the Yom Kippur war, exactly fifty years ago last month. But they had five children, two of who died, one as a baby, the other in her early 20s; and their surviving son has a serious disability. She tells us much less about her second husband, Michael Frayn, which is a little disappointing. But there is still plenty of personal material to draw on, with her literary endeavours a secondary theme. The hilarious contact lens scene from Noises Off was inspired by something that actually happened to Tomalin while on holiday with Frayn.

Writing of her time at Cambridge, she says that she gave up writing poetry because she felt she was not good enough at it; but this “left an emptiness in my life which has never quite been filled.” I find that rather sad. Her biographies are superlative, but I guess she feels that there was something more creative that was possible and that she missed out on. There is still time.
… (mais)
nwhyte | 3 outras críticas | Dec 17, 2023 |
Very good historical research and marvelous view on women's history and women's life in the nineteenth century.
timswings | 14 outras críticas | Jan 29, 2023 |
This one took a while to get through. It’s very thorough, and the author spent several chapters with in-depth descriptions of Austen’s immediate family, extended family, and neighbors. It made sense to give as clear a picture as possible of the people who meant the most to Jane Austen, and of the place where she was raised. These chapters weren’t, however, the most compelling reading, and even with my chapter-a-day style of reading nonfiction, I didn’t always accomplish that some days.

As Tomalin progressed through Austen’s life into her adulthood and writing, the book grabbed my attention more, and I especially enjoyed the chapters about her different books being published and their reception. I wasn’t sure what to think of the commentary on Mansfield Park, and I was surprised to hear how many people preferred Mary Crawford to Fanny Price. It’s been many years since I read that one, and I’m sure it wasn’t a particularly deep reading, so maybe I’ll have to take another look. I’ve always disliked Mary Crawford, in the book and in movie adaptations. It’s funny, as Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza was described, she reminded me of Mary Crawford. And Tomalin described Eliza as someone Austen admired.

As I got near the end of this biography, I kept wishing for a different ending to Austen‘s life than what she got, death at 41. It’s incredibly sad to think about how she died so young and must have had so many more stories to tell. And it just killed me to read about all the letters of hers that were destroyed by her sister Cassandra and her niece.

I’m glad I read it. It was very well-researched, and it certainly inspired me to reread the novels I haven’t revisited yet.
… (mais)
Harks | 32 outras críticas | Dec 17, 2022 |
The summer after graduating from college, I took a bicycle trip through parts of Europe, with a month in England to start. We stayed in a B&B in Winchester one night (the Cricketer's Arms - I wonder if it's still there. They were lovely!), and the next day wandered through the cathedral. I happened to look down at a grave marker in the pavement to find I was standing on Jane Austen, amazed to find the inscription said exactly nothing whatsoever about her writing. While I had gobbled up Bronte and Dickens et al., I had never read any Austen. So we stopped in a local bookstore and bought a paperback of Pride & Prejudice - and I was hooked. That was decades ago.

Tomalin is a fine biographer, who has gone through what documentation there remains of Austen's life and family with a fine-toothed comb, and creates a smooth and detailed narrative. It paints an insightful (though sometimes speculative) picture of Jane (alas, we have only a couple of dubious actual portraits of her). She comes to life on the page as smart, witty, observant, sometimes wry and even snide, against the circumstances of the lives led by most women in her era - constant worries about money, and the mercenary pressures to marry (which she chose to resist, though tempted once or twice), and - god help them - giving birth every year or so. Raised in a household of four brothers plus the boys her father took in as boarding students, Jane could be boisterous, outspoken, and chafed by the restrictions placed by social mores and economics on her freedom of action and movement. After watching several sisters-in-law die after delivering their seventh or eleventh child, she finally sighed that she found herself rather tired of all the children and felt herself lucky.

Tomalin's coverage of Jane's books themselves is a good read for those of us who love them, giving some insights into how she developed them (slowly, over a long time), some description of the publishing biz at the time (aided by her brother), and where she might have proceeded with her writing had she had the years to do so.

There is plenty of drama among Jane's family, friends and relations: a cousin's husband beheaded by the French Revolution, disabled children, difficult marriages, a sadistic psychopath of a neighbor, her brothers' travails and successes, death by a runaway horse, etc. - very little of which she wrote about. There is probably too much genealogical padding - Tomalin seems to have sought out every remote cousin, in-law, friend and cousins of friends, and houses and rectories and lodgings... enough to leave a reader floundering (and maybe skimming pages).

Given the dearth of primary evidence from Jane herself (thanks to her sister Cassandra's decision to burn or scissor all her letters), this is likely as full a biography as we can get of Jane Austen. A welcome read for those who already love her. And a relief to those who are sick to death of pseudo-Austenian "Regency romances," spinoffs, sexed-up Netflix and other streaming series (Bridgerton. I'm looking at you). Stick with the wonderful version of Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds - still the best of them all.

… (mais)
JulieStielstra | 32 outras críticas | Dec 14, 2022 |



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