The Pebbled Shore

Elizabeth Harman Pakenham Longford, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-394-53764-1
This record of the first 60 years of Longford's life isas her renowned biographies of Queen Victoria and the Duke of Wellington would lead one to expectfluent, spritely, even toned and packed with sharp portraits of people (a veritable literary and political Who's Who, as it turns out). Of stimulating intellectual fare there is relatively little; Longford appears to be better at observing than analyzing. She describes her childhood (she was the daughter of doctors, and Joseph Chamberlain was her great-uncle); her merry years at Oxford, where she knew Hugh Gaitskell, Spender, Auden and many other future ""eminents''; the bright social world of London's late 1920s and early 1930s, affectionately satirized by her friend Evelyn Waugh; stomping the provinces in the socialist cause; her marriage to Frank Packenham, Earl of Longford, later to be First Lord of the Admiralty; her conversion to Catholicism; and bringing up her eight children, of whom four became writers. (She also offers interesting thoughts on the art of biography.) A vivid picture of an extraordinarily fulfilled, fortunate and evidently happy life. Photos. (October 3)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
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