Book Reviews

The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West (1930)

The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West, published in 1930, is a novel that critiques the aristocracy of the early 20th century. The work was very much a reflection of the world that Vita grew up in.

As the only child of the aristocratic Victoria and Lionel Edward Sackville-West, a Baron, she had all the duties of a male heir, yet as a female, she wasn’t able to inherit Knole, the castle in which the small family lived.

In The Edwardians, the country estate of Knole castle becomes the fictional Chevron. Within the fictional framework, Vita reproduces in exquisite detail its physical features.  Read More→

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Little Birds: Erotica by Anaïs Nin (1979)

Little Birds was Anaïs Nin’s second volume of erotic short stories, following Delta of Venus. Originally written as a way to make quick money, she sold them at a rate of a dollar per page to an anonymous client in the 1940s.

Little Birds was published in 1979, two years after Nin’s death. This collection of thirteen stories, perhaps more accurately termed vignette, cover a range of sexual topics from the female perspective.

Some of the characters from Delta of Venus make an appearance in these pages. The publisher describes the work: Read More→

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Gertrude Stein has Arrived: The Homecoming of a Literary Legend

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933) is actually Gertrude Stein‘s own memoir. Gertrude Stein Has Arrived by Roy Morris, Jr. chronicles the return of the delightfully perplexing literary figure to her American homeland in 1934.

With Alice in tow, Stein conducted an epic lecture tour to promote what would be her most commercially successful book.

Gertrude appropriated the supposed persona of her longtime companion, Alice B. Toklas, to tell her own tale. Famously, Alice is quoted as saying:

“About six weeks ago Gertrude Stein said, ‘It does not look to me as if you were ever going to write that autobiography. You know what I am going to do? I am going to write it for you. I am going to write it as simply as Defoe did the autobiography of Robinson Crusoe.’ And she has, and this is it.” Read More→

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Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston (1942)

Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston’s 1942 autobiography, has confounded critics and scholars from the time of its publication, even as it has enthralled and entertained readers.

It was the most commercially successful book she published during her lifetime, though it has since been eclipsed by her 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Zora (1891 – 1960) studied anthropology at Barnard College in the 1920s, becoming the first African-American student at the prestigious college. With her larger-than-life personality, she quickly became a big name in the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s. Read More→

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The Message of the City: Dawn Powell’s New York Novels 1925 – 1962

Dawn Powell (1896 – 1965) is considered a “writer’s writer,” though nearly all of her work was out of print by the time she died. Overcoming a hard-knock early life in the American midwest, she moved to New York City in 1918 and fell in love with it. Dawn Powell’s New York novels and stories are among the most enduring of her works.

Though she wrote prolifically throughout her life, producing novels, short stories, poetry, and plays, she didn’t gain much notoriety — for better or worse — during her lifetime. To the joy of devoted fans and new readers alike, many of her works have been rediscovered and rereleased. Read More→

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