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May and Amy: A True Story of Family, Forbidden Love, and the Secret Lives of May Gaskell, Her Daughter Amy, and Sir Edward Burne-Jo Paperback – 28 Mar 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (CA); Reprint edition (28 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307335895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307335890
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,516,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JOSCELINE DIMBLEBY has been one of Britain's most popular food writers for over thirty years. Her cookery books have sold well over 2 million copies in the UK alone, and been translated into many languages. She has published 17 cookery books and was cookery correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph newspaper for 15 years.

After nearly 30 years of writing cookery books Josceline made a complete change with a biographical family mystery spanning 100 years, which included her great grandmother's secret relationship with the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones and her beautiful daughter's mysterious death 'of a broken heart'. A PROFOUND SECRET was first published in 2004 to great critical acclaim.

ORCHARDS IN THE OASIS followed in 2010, an autobiographical book combining her greatest passions in life, densely illustrated with photographs. The book won the Kate Whitman Award for food and travel writing in June 2011.

Most recently Josceline re-wrote, revised and added to her bestseller during the 1980's recessions, MARVELLOUS MEALS WITH MINCE published September 2012.

Josceline continues to travel widely, has written on travel and food for various publications, gives live talks and contributes to television and radio programmes.

For more information go to www.joscelinedimbleby.com

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good read touching on the behind the scenes relationships of the artist Edward Burne-Jones, mainly involving the Gaskell family.
This book caught my eye after reading "A Circle of Sisters", a biography of the McDonald sisters, one of whom married Burne-Jones.
Together they provide an insight into late Victorian/Edwardian middle class family life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An interesting story of a mother and daughter during the mid-Victorian times 23 April 2008
By Angie2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a rather difficult book to review because of the sub-title (ie: " ....A True Story of Family,Forbidden Love,and the Secret Lives of Mary Gaskell,her daughter Amy, and Sir Edward Burne-Jones").

Originally, I had purchased this book when I did a SEARCH for the Pre-Raphaelite Artist "Sir Edward Burne-Jones". Therefore, this book was one of the first results to come-up in my Search under "Burne-Jones".
I was therefore, entrigued by the sub-titles and I soon bought this book.

To start off with, if a reader is even somewhat familiar with the Pre-Raphelite Brotherhood, and particularly with Edward Burne-Jones, they would know that Edward Burne-Jones had the habit of writing many letters to pretty women that he had met along the way. Some of these "writing relationships" were just that---"writing relationships" (ie: not necessarily physical relationships,or not necessarily un-like that more famous Burne-Jones relationship with Mary Zambaco).

(PLEASE NOTE: Burne Jones got involved in these interesting female "relationships" while still married to his only wife: GEORGIE BURNE-JONES).

Anyhow, Burne-Jones was taken by pretty women that were "thin" (a MUST under his book) and/or also, by women that were quite fragile-looking. I don`t know why, but for some bizarre reason, Burne-Jones was repulsed by "fat" women (??).

So, according to the books I have read about Burne-Jones,once Burne-Jones was teken-in by that woman's thinness and fragile looks, he would soon expand his relationship to a more "intellectual relationship" (as he perceived it) .

Sometimes, these relationships became more physical, and sometimes NOT. (By the way, his wife GEORGIE was well aware of all of this).

Anyhow, one of the pretty women Burne-Jones encountered, (while still married to Georgie) was a woman named MAY GASKELL.
May Gaskell was a very interesting woman with an interseting background, adn this book will discuss these facts.

Therefore, the first half of this book by Dimbleby deals with May's background. This part of the book puts, in perspective, May's life --- and especially in context to a typical upper-middle-class VICTORIAN life. Thus, please keep this in mind while reading the first part of this book.

Once the reader becomes accustomed to May Gaskell's life, the reader will soon learn about May's relationship to her relatives and especially May's children. Specifically, one of May's favorite children was a beautiful daughter called AMY.

Amy, quickly becomes the focus of this Dimbleby book and along with wonderful photos of Amy and her many "boyfriends", Amy's personality begins to emerge throughout this book.

In a nutshell, Amy is a very complex person, just like her mother May.

Without giving too much away, Amy's life unfolds in the book and there are many pretty Victorian photos of Amy showing the reader why Amy must have been so admired by men and male Artists.

Next in this book, the reader becomes involved with the interesting "correspondence relationship" that Amy's mother , May, begins with Burne-Jones.

Once again, I don't want to give too much away, but I can say that through all the letters written between May and Burne-Jones, the reader can get a 'feel' for what may have been going on (or not) throughout their 'platonic' relationship.

I must stress that this book ("May and Amy") is rather a book about ONE aspect of Burne-Jones' life--and not about his entire life! Primarily, this book deals with the correspondences between Burne-Jones and May Gaskell. In these letters, a reader can gather what Burne-Jones may have been like. But since this book is primarily about May Gaskell (and Amy Gaskell), please note that this book is myopic in it's viewpoint,in regards to Georgie and Edward Burne-Jones.

Still, this book is quite intersting to read because it captures the essence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, via one participant (ie: Sir Edward Burne Jones) and ONE of his many friends (ie: May Gaskell).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
May and Amy - enjoy it as much as I did! 30 Aug 2011
By JohnF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am an unashamed biography reader. I am also completely besotted with the period from late 19th century to the 1930s. This book fitted right in. I should also say that as soon as I realized this was a book about a voyage of discovery into family history, unraveling family mysteries and finding treasures of hidden papers and photogrpahs in attics, the Ashmolean and the Bodlean libraries, I was completely taken in and smothered by the fascinating story such that almost everything I did while reading the book was tinged by a comparison to that time. Other reviewers have outlined the story so I won't repeat that. However I will remark that this is a story primarily about May Gaskell and her daughter Amy, not about Byrne-Jones although he does play an important role in the center of this story. The appeal for me lies in the vivid picture Dimbleby paints of the era, the array of privileged characters and the great sadnesses that were suffered by them. This is a tale about very privileged folk who have unlimited resources it seems, and who need not work. Somehow this doesn't diminish the pain of their personal suffering even if we, in the 21st century, might regard them as melodramatic and self-absorbed. And Dimbleby does an admirable job in surfacing the emotions in her reader through those of her protagonists. The Victorians, or at least those who had the luxury to dwell on their emotional lives, were clearly prone to melancholy and sadness. The whole Pre-Raphaelite movement, you might say, was underpinned by a longing for a world and loves that were forbidden or withheld which thus created their sad musings. The longing for the return of Arthur and the Round Table with all its romantic associations is just one example that crops up in this story. The Arts and Crafts movement as a whole was bent on preserving a world that was fast disappearing; a world where the inidvidual craftsman was preeminent; which set out with a lofty goal to make beautiful objects available for the masses. Somehow this was not well thought through economically and it backfired. Perhaps this sad fact was inevitable given the advent of industry and what was forever created by the changes brought about by the Great War. The immediate pre-war period was one where there was immense tension between the 'old world' of craftsmen, class distinction and leisure for the minority; and the soon-to-be new world order of mass production, speed and more equality. This story paints an interesting and vivid picture of this time and the minority of wealthy individuals who inhabited this privileged world, which was soon to change for ever. While it is a story about a family and a few individuals, it can stand for a broader expose of a world which almost entirely disappeared after 1918.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, Irresistable and Delicious! 17 Aug 2008
By Book Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book came into my life while I was on holiday in Maui. I found it left in a condo I was renting. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. It is the kind of book one will read until 3:00am because one wants to read just one more chapter before putting it aside for the night. I found this book mesmerizing. The dual excitement of accompanying the author on her detective mission into the history of her relatives along with the discovery of the life journey of her ancestors is one of the best adventures I have had in a long time. Ms. Dimbleby is already an accomplished writer, and her writing style is beautifully elegant and swiftly moving. Her ability to bring the personalities of some intensely fascinating Victorian era characters to warm-blooded life is awe inspiring. Serendipitously, her ancestors were similarly talented with a pen, prolific letter writers, and thereby preserved first person accounts of many of the most interesting events and issues of their time. One gets to know these people in an intimate way and feels an inkling of understanding about what motivated them, inspired them, made their lives worth living or took the desire to live away from them entirely. One also gets a bonus understanding of the Boer Wars and other military actions of the British Government during Victorian times. I loved this book and am delighted to have happened upon it as I did. A wonderful and rewarding read. Enjoy!
May and Amie 18 April 2009
By P. Appleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Grabbed me from the beginning. I love a good biography.I appreciate all the work involved and the connection to author and subject made it appealing also.
Well done.
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