Sketches in Pen and Ink

Vanessa Bell, Author Chatto & Windus $22.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-7012-1035-9
If the glut of recent books on the subject is any indication, interest in Bloomsbury has hardly abated, and with recent movies such as Orlando or Mrs. Dalloway, it may have increased. This loose collection of seven short essays represents the surviving memoirs of Vanessa Bell, the ""Queen Bee"" of that famous group. An introduction by her daughter, Angelica Garnett, gives us a little background on the author and a lot in the way of an apology: because these essays were originally written for the Memoir Club, which consisted of close friends, Bell had to choose her words carefully. Her reserve shows. Bell strips out the interesting details of her life and leaves only the familiar outline. She virtually ignores her husband, Clive Bell, and her lover, Duncan Grant, and turns her affair with Roger Fry into something passionless. Bell even manages to make life at Bloomsbury sound dull. The reader longs for something personal, but these vignettes fail to emotionally engage the outside reader--perhaps because they were written for friends already intimately familiar with the details. A fairly disappointing collection with a slightly misleading subtitle: only half of the essays are about the Bloomsbury Group. The attempt in the concluding essay to elevate Bell's stature beyond that of a minor artist is unconvincing. This is another addition to the groaning bookshelves of devoted Bloomsberries but not beyond. 14 b&w illustrations. (May)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Show other formats
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-7126-6603-9
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4464-1214-5
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.