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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Manet and Modern Beauty by Edited by Scott Allan, Emily A. Beeny, and Gloria Groom

Manet's last works have been severely under-rated because of their so-called 'chocolate boxy' qualities. The authors of these essays tell how Manet's yearning for beauty and love of fashion and women influenced these lovely paintings and study them in great detail.

This is an interesting book for art-lovers and a useful one for art students.

I received this ebook from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Art of Resistance : My Four Years in the French Underground: A Memoir Justus Rosenberg

This is a fascinating story, but occasionally written in a dry style. Justus Rosenberg looks back on his exciting years in the Resistance and provides insights into the famous characters he met, such as Chagall and Peggy Guggenheim in this amazing tale of daring and courage, against all odds.

When he was only a teenager, Rosenberg looked forward to going to the prestigious Sorbonne from his homeland in Poland.  He enjoyed his time studying in Paris where he learned fluent French but he didn't realise when he left Poland that he would be heading into the maelstrom as the Nazis leapt to power.  Ability and luck together with his blue eyes and blonde hair saved him from many dire situations, until he started work for the legend of the Resistance, Varian Fry, in Marseille.  Fry had a huge underground network helping anti-Nazi intellectuals and artists escape Vichy France. Here, Rosenberg met strange characters, such as the heiress Mary-Jayne Gold whose gangster boyfriend apparently helped provide money for the network! He also met Lisa Fittko who helped people escape across the Pyrenees.

The most dramatic scene in the book occurs when Rosenberg is arrested and jailed. Fearing a terrible death in a concentration camp, he follows the advice to pretend to be sick and ends up in hospital with his appendix taken out! A priest helps to save him, and he starts work in a Resistance cell learning to fight the Germans...

Justus Rosenberg is now a professor of Literature at 96 and still teaches occasionally. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government for his services in the Resistance.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the French Resistance.


Friday, December 20, 2019

The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit Author of The Railway Children by Eleanor Fitzsimons

Edith Nesbit, Wikipedia

I loved The Railway Children and read it time and time again when I was young, so I was keen to read this biography. Edith Nesbit certainly had a fascinating life, but not an easy one, and I really enjoyed the book.

Fitzsimons has researched Edith's life thoroughly and provides an account which is extremely detailed and quite long, but never dull.  She was a rather formidable woman who not only wrote children's books which are still highly regarded today, but also managed to provide for a large family, and actually do a lot to help poor children. She and her husband also belonged to a very intellectual and arty 'set,' which included such people as Shaw and Cyril Chesterton.

Probably, some readers in the 'Me Too' era will wonder why she put up with her handsome, but philandering husband, who even had some children with her friend. They lived in a strange 'menage a' trois' for a time. However, she seemed to be happy with him to some extent, and they were both rather bohemian Fabians with modern philosophies, such as free love and a belief in vegetarianism.

Fitzsimons analyses the background to Nesbit's books so this is a useful book to keep for those who want to read them again, or read them for the first time.

I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.