Sunday 21 December 2014

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.

The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.


I can’t say I was overly pleased with the journal approach of this book, and I was a bit confused why there was dialog in the journal. I mean I haven’t written a journal in years but who writes dialog in it? It would have been just better to have this book written from Vanessa's point of view without the journal entries.

I read Vanessa and Virginia by Susan Sellers some years ago and loved that book so I was intrigued by the thought of reading another book about the sisters, but this book was not nearly as good in my opinion. But still, Vanessa and Her Sister wasn’t all that bad, if you are interested in Bloomsbury Group, in Vanessa’s relationship with Virginia that you will probably find this book interesting to read. Also even though I wasn’t overjoyed about this book, I still liked it, and I especially liked the last part of the book, then the story really picked up. I would have loved to read more about Vanessa’s relationship with Roger Fry and Virginia’s marriage to Leonard instead there it ended. A bit of a letdown...

Vanessa and Virginia 

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review! 

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