The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire

Laura Claridge. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-11425-1
Blanche Knopf was a full partner in the esteemed publishing company Alfred A. Knopf (named for her husband) from its founding in 1915 until her death in 1966. The case made here by biographer Claridge (Emily Post) is that, of the two partners, Blanche led the more interesting life. Shortly after marrying, Blanche and Alfred settled into a somewhat distant relationship and lived apart much of the time. Their lives revolved around books, with Blanche’s many prestigious acquisitions including works by multiple Nobel Prize winners, Khalil Gibran, Dashiell Hammett, Willa Cather, Sigmund Freud, and countless other prominent authors. Claridge recounts Blanche’s struggles with depression, intense love of dogs, and affairs with other men. Blanche’s marriage was often fraught, but her friendship with writers H.L. Mencken and Carl Van Vechten helped sustain her emotionally. Claridge’s storytelling is mostly clear and linear, but she occasionally omits narrative transitions, which can cause confusion for the reader. However, she manages to synthesize an enormous amount of research and biographical information to paint a complete picture of a complex figure. Packed with interesting literary anecdotes, this biography reveals a powerful woman who played an integral role in 20th-century publishing. Agent: Carol Mann, Carol Mann Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015
Release date: 04/12/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-374-70973-0
Paperback - 430 pages - 978-0-374-53676-3
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