I had a book token...
As book-buying excuses go, that one is pretty good. I don't understand how people can have a book token for more than about a week - it's a free book, how can I withstand that temptation? Luckily I found a book I really wanted (always tricky... ahem) and so bought Uncommon Arrangements : Seven portraits of married life in London literary circles 1910-1939 by Katie Roiphe. With a title like that, how could I not? It's the right period for me, it's domestic, and it is about these couples:
Katherine Mansfield & John Middleton Murray
Vanessa & Clive Bell
Elizabeth von Arnim & John Francis Russell
Ottoline & Philip Morrell
H.G. & Jane Wells
Vera Brittain & George Gordon Catlin
Radclyffe Hall & Una Troubridge
I've arranged those in order of my own interest - but I was pleased to say I'd heard of most of them, including at least one of every pairing. In many ways, this book seems catered just for me - I long to know more about so many of these couples. When a book is that obviously Simon, it would be churlish to leave it on the shelf. And I had a book token (did I mention that?)
'Each chapter is structured around a crisis in a marriage and how it is resolved or not resolved. In some cases the crisis is as large as life-threatening illness, and in others it is as small as a slightly drunken conversation over dinner that threatens the balance of carefully submerged emotions.' So Katie Roiphe writes in the introduction, which is the only bit I've read so far. The introduction does seem a little too touchy-feely, and lots of rhetorical questions (I was reminded of the stereotypical first-year undergraduate essay) but hopefully this will lessen as the main section of the book emerges. Anyway, it would be hard for Roiphe to write about these people without being interesting to me... at the same time, I want her to do them justice.
I'll report back when I'm done...