This isn’t just any cookery book. It is ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’, first published in 1961, & it’s a book that is a statement, not of culinary intent, but of aspiration, a commitment to a certain sort of good life, a certain sort of world-view; a votive object implying taste & appetite & a little je ne sais quoi.
How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered – an icon and idol – alongside your own? Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.
This is a fascinating and beautifully written account of the lives of eleven British and American authors whose addiction to alcohol may have been a necessary adjunct to their writing but ruined their lives. Palmer’s succinct biographies contain fine descriptions of the writers, their work and the times they lived in; and there are convincing insights into what led so many authors to take to drink.
‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ Elizabeth Barrett Browning has come down to us as a romantic heroine. But behind the melodrama lies a thoroughly modern figure, whose extraordinary life is a study in self-invention. Born into an age when women could neither vote nor own property once married, Barrett Browning seized control of her private income, overcame long term illness and disability, eloped to revolutionary Italy with Robert Browning – and achieved lasting fame as a poet. Feminist icon, political activist and international literary superstar, she inspired writers as diverse as Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf. This book holds up a mirror to the woman, her art, and the art of biography itself.