Vanessa and Her Sister - Priya Parmar
Author: Priya Parmar
Genre: Historical Fiction
Description: 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 eventually, 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. (via Goodreads)
Thoughts: While I liked the format of the book, which is told through a series of letters, I felt that the book was dull at times. It's not that Ms. Parmar is a bad writer, it's just that I was expecting something more out of the book than what I ended up getting out of the book. Maybe if it had been told in a traditional narrative format, the book may have been more enjoyable.
Bottom line: While I liked the format of the book and how the story was told, I felt that the story itself was sort of ho-hum and that this was a book I could have easily DNF'd on. I think it had more to do with how I felt about the lives of the characters were pretty dull, except that some of them became to be fairly well known people. Recommended.