Book review: Deceived with Kindness

By Angelica Garnett
Published by Pimlico

Synopsis: Angelica Garnett may truly be called a child of Bloomsbury. Her Aunt was Virginia Woolf, her mother Vanessa Bell, and her father Duncan Grant, though for many years Angelica believed herself, naturally enough, the daughter of Vanessa's husband Clive.

Her childhood homes, Charleston in Sussex and Gordon Square in London, were both centres of Bloomsbury activity, and she grew up surrounded by the most talked-about writers and artists of the day - Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, the Stracheys, Maynard Keynes, David Garnett (whom she later married), and many others.

But Deceived with Kindness is also a record of a young girl's particular struggle to achieve independence from that extraordinary and intense milieu as a mature and independent woman. With an honesty that is by degrees agonising and uplifting, the author creates a vibrant, poignant picture of her mother, Vanessa Bell, of her own emergent individuality, and of the Bloomsbury era.

How did this book end up in my hands? It was mentioned every time I visited Charleston Farmhouse and I just had to buy it!

Was it a page-turner? No, I found I enjoyed it more in small morsels.

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? I had heard so many things about this book before even reading the synopsis that I had perhaps set too high expectations.

Did I like the ending? It had to end somewhere!

Did the book leave me with unanswered questions? I will always have more questions about the Bloomsbury group so I didn’t expect this book to be the answer to all of them!

Three words to describe it. Personal. Biased. Informative.

Do I like the cover? Yes, its colours remind me of the landscape around Charleston Farmhouse.

Have I read any other books by the same author? No, I haven’t.

Will I want to read other books by the same author? I believe that Angelica Garnett has only written one other book, which sounds like the fictionalised version of her autobiography. I don’t think I need to read it.

Will I be recommending this book? Only to someone with a keen interest in the Bloomsbury group.


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