A Book of Secrets: Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

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Macmillan, Aug 7, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 264 pages
2 Reviews

A Time Top Ten Nonfiction Book of 2011
A Seattle Times Best Book of 2011

On a hill above the Italian village of Ravello sits the Villa Cimbrone, a place of fantasy and make-believe. The characters who move through Michael Holroyd's A Book of Secrets are destined never to meet, yet the Villa Cimbrone and one man unite them all.

This elegiac work is about the quest of unearthing and recounting the stories of women always on the periphery of the respectable world--from Alice Keppel, the mistress of both the second Lord Grimthorpe and the Prince of Wales; to Eve Fairfax, a muse of Auguste Rodin; to the novelist Violet Trefusis, the lover of Vita Sackville-West.
Also on the margins is the elusive biographer, who on occasion turns an appraising eye upon himself as part of his investigations in the maze of biography.


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User Review  - lexmccall - LibraryThing

This is a very bizarre biography of sorts. It seemed like the author changed the goal of the book between the first chapter and the last, and I'm still not certain what it was to begin with. The ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ChrisSterry - LibraryThing

I very much enjoyed the earlier part of this book, centring around the life and various loves of Ernest Beckett, 2nd Lord Grimthorpe. It was a glittering tangle of mysteries and infidelities. In these ... Read full review


Preface The World Turned Upside Down
Part I
Part II
Epilogue Time Regained
Afterword A History of the Books
Family Trees
Select Bibliography

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About the author (2012)

Michael Holroyd is the author of acclaimed biographies of George Bernard Shaw, the painter Augustus John, Lytton Strachey, and Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, as well as two memoirs, Basil Street Blues and Mosaic. Knighted for his services to literature, he is the president emeritus of the Royal Society of Literature and the only nonfiction writer to have been awarded the David Cohen British Prize for Literature. His previous book, A Strange Eventful History, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 2009. He lives in London with his wife, the novelist Margaret Drabble.

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