Before we leave the subject of The Bloomsbury Group for now, I must mention the second of the six titles as it's due out this week. About eighteen months ago I snapped up a charity shop copy of The Brontes went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson having heard much about it including how hard it was to find. It proved a good buy, and here's what I thought of it:
This book is quite mad, and yet it sparkles - and I don't mean with a sort of deranged glint in the eye!
It's the story of an eccentric family - the three Carne girls, their widowed mother and their governess live in 1920s London. Deirdre, the eldest daughter, is a journalist and would-be novelist, Katrine is beginning a career on the stage, while Sheil is still in the schoolroom, but their lives are peopled by all sorts of imaginary friends and characters around whom they create bizarre flights of fancy, pretence and running jokes.
When reality overlaps with their elaborate fantasy and they actually encounter their unlikely 'pin-up', the very real Mr. Justice Toddington, and his wife, both of whom have been part of their imaginings for some time, the story takes an engaging turn as the made-up "saga" must now be lived out.
"The main trouble lay in the fact that I came to Lady Toddington aware: primed with a thousand delicate, secret, knowledges and intuitions, whereas to her I was ... merely so much cubic girl, so to speak." And "Toddy, from a negative, had developed into a print." But the Toddingtons, once they - like the reader - get the hang of the Carne girls, play along with true spirit and add much substance to the girls' lives. Whimsical and fey it may be, but there's also a deeper, darker side to the book (which is where the Brontes come in) to balance the froth and fancy.
It's quick, sharp, more than a touch batty, but ultimately rather endearing.
So, two very different books to launch what looks like being an excellent list, but no prizes for guessing which is my personal favourite!