A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf

Jane Dunn, Author Little Brown and Company $29.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-316-19653-6
With an admitted fascination for ``the sources and dynamic of the relationship between Vanessa and Virginia,'' Dunn ( Moon in Eclipse: A Life of Mary Shelley ) takes advantage of the voluminous letters, diaries, family papers and published writings of the Stephen/Woolf/Bell milieu in reconstructing a passionate and competitive sisterhood. Dunn eschews strict chronology to tell the story of the sisters thematically: their roles within the Stephen clan; as appreciative audiences for each other's artistic work; as nurturer and nurtured during family tragedy and Virginia's bouts of mental illness; and as beloved allies and rivals vis-a-vis their husbands, lovers, family and friends. Dunn overemphasizes Vanessa as an embodiment of maternal virtue, in contrast to Virginia's devotion to intellectual achievement, but her detailed portrait of their intimacy more than compensates for inevitable repetition as she develops her themes. This addition to the growing body of work on members of the Bloomsbury group provides a welcome overview and will appeal to readers not familiar with Woolf's life, as well as to her fans. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4464-3465-9
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