29 June 2006

Portrait of a Marriage — a la Bloomsbury

Nigel Nicolson is the son of writer Vita Sackville-West and diplomat-politician Harold Nicolson. When his parents died he found a locked leather Gladstone bag in his mother's study, cut it open, and discovered a diary containing an autobiographical account of her affair with Violet Trefusis. This book is made up of these diary entries, interspersed with his own explanations of what went on in those parts of the story his mother doesn't cover. It's not really a portrait of a marriage at all until the final chapter. Harold Nicolson remains a vaporous non-presence throughout, and there is almost nothing about the relationship between them except for her protestations at 'depending' on him. The central issue is her passionate three-year fling that has her dressing up as a man, leaving her husband and children behind to 'elope' to France, and to live in Monte Carlo, gambling at the tables with money they didn't have, whilst Trefusis was debating the wisdom of marrying her fiancé Denys, whom she didn't love or desire .. Read more >>


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