Love's Civil War: Elizabeth Bowen and Charles Ritchie, Letters and Diaries,1941-1973

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McClelland & Stewart, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 489 pages
4 Reviews
National bestseller and a "Globe and Mail "Best Book
The passionate, life-long love affair between two magicians of the written word.
The Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen and the Canadian diplomat Charles Ritchie met at a christening in London, England, in 1941; shortly afterward they embarked on a love affair that lasted until her death in 1973. At the time they met, she was married, but Ritchie quickly became her whole life, although she remained committed to the loving but sexually unfulfilling life with her husband. When Ritchie realized that she would never divorce, he eventually married too -- wedding his cousin Sylvia in 1948. In a terrible twist of fate, Bowen's husband died just a few years later.
Most of the time the lovers were apart, snatching a few days together when they could. But they wrote constantly to each other, letters in which she poured out her heart to him about their affair, about her money troubles, about friends, politics, and literature, and Ritchie kept every letter she wrote. His own letters to her have not survived, but he wrote candidly about her and his conflicted feelings for her in his diaries, diaries that were heavily edited for the four volumes that have been published. Ritchie died in 1995.

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User Review  - paeonia - LibraryThing

A thirty-year love affair is recorded in Elizabeth Bowen's letters and Charles Ritchie's diary entries. Because there are more letters than entries the affair seems somewhat one-sided. At first I ... Read full review

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User Review  - Myckyee - LibraryThing

I’ve always enjoyed epistolary novels and non-fiction books. There’s something about them that I find easy to read and I feel almost guilty as if I were reading someone’s secret diary and thoughts ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Biographer, critic, broadcaster, and novelist, Victoria Glendinning was born in Sheffield, England, and educated at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern Languages. Her acclaimed biographies include Elizabeth Bowen: Portrait of a Writer, published in 1977; Edith Sitwell: A Unicorn Among Lions (1981), which won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for biography) and the Duff Cooper Prize; and Rebecca West: A Life (1987). Both Vita: The Life of V. Sackville-West (1983) and Trollope (1992) won the Whitbread Biography Award. Her latest biography is Leonard Woolf (M&S, 2006). Glendinning is also the author of three novels: The Grown-Ups (1989); Electricity (1995); and Flight (M&S, 2004), a novel of passion and betrayal set in the world of international business.

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