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Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages in Literary London 1910 -1939 Paperback – 3 Sep 2009


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Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Marriages in Literary London 1910 -1939 + Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939 + Deceived With Kindness: A Bloomsbury Childhood
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844082717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844082711
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Here's the perfect bedside book for an age like our own, when everything is known and nothing is understood. Roiphe takes the prism of the past and turns high gossip into cultural insight . . . At the end of her book we feel we know these couples as intimately as if we were part of their circle (Tina Brown, NEW YORK TIME BOOK REVIEW)

** 'Elegantly written . . . Roiphe has a sharp way with a phase . . . [an] artful selection of quotes (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

Roiphe takes a lively - if self-confessedly un-academic - approach in her biography . . . her flair for detail makes for an engrossing peek into these unconventional family lives (DAILY MAIL)

** 'Roiphe works her way "inside" each marriage . . . UNCOMMON ARRANGEMENTS will teach you many things, none of them comfortable (LITERARY REVIEW)

Book Description

Katie Roiphe explores the unconventional relationships between renowned writers and artists - a fascinating combination of high-society gossip and historical enquiry

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am always intrigued by the way other people organise their marriages and this book makes fascinating reading. Seven marriages are covered here - some well known such as H G Wells and his wife Jane and mistress Rebecca West; others less well known - to me at any rate - such as Elizabeth Von Arnim and John Francis Russell. All of the seven couples featured here saw marriage as encompassing the freedom to have lovers - or at least romantic friendships - if they wished. Some were open with their partners - others acted in secrecy.

Several of the couples rarely shared a house and others hardly ever seem to have been on the same continent. One couple - Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge were not married in the legal sense though they could have had a civil partnership today. Several of the people featured here had an ambiguity about whether they preferred their own sex or the opposite and many had a passion for reading Jane Austen or having her work read to them. I found it interesting that all the couples moved in the same circles and had friends and lovers in common.

This book is a spell binding read - almost like tabloid newspaper scandals, though much better written. My only complaint is about the lack of geographical detail. Couples bought houses but the location is not stated. The South coast of England encompasses a considerable distance and the country does not have a North coast unless you are talking about Scotland. I kept wanting to yell `Where did they buy a house?' at the author. I think this reflects the book's first publication in the US but I would have thought the UK editors would have spotted the lack of precise information on this point.

Apart from this relatively minor point I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Michelle Maurice on 19 Nov 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a terrrific book. Informative and also gossipy, intelligent and insightful, I found this fascinating. Despite the title, which sounds perhaps a bit literary, I didn't want to put this book down and was pretty much glued to it. To see the human side of people like Katherine Mansfield and Vanessa Bell was most intriguing. I highly recommend it - a good stocking filler for Christmas!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant book, delving into seven marriages in Literary London (1910-1939), between couples who were often linked, inter related or part of the same 'set'. The marriages concerned are H.G. & Jane Wells, Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry, Elizabeth von Arnim and John Francis Russell, Vanessa and Clive Bell, Ottoline and Philip Morrell, Radclyffe Hall and Una Tourbridge and Vera Brittain and George Gordon Catlin. Mostly, the couples contained at least one author, although Ottoline Morrell was a literary hostess, rather than a writer. There is also one couple who were not married, but in an established lesbian relationship. As well as the couples concerned, there are also those who caused the marriages in question to be different or 'uncommon' - mistresses, lovers and friends.

For anyone interested in the Bloomsbury set, this is also a great portrait of an era and a world of changing expectations and values. This is social history at its best, written in a readable, rather than an academic style. Gossipy, great to dip into, it makes a wonderful bedside read and is simply fascinating. It has also led me to try some of the work by the authors mentioned in the book that I hadn't read before and has introduced me to some great literature. Wonderful, highly recommend this informative read. Despite the tragedy of some of the relationships here, the over-riding sense is of the way people somehow make their lives work in the best way they can. It is the triumph of the human spirit and a sense of family, even if that family was not the more conventional set up. As a last note, I read the kindle edition of this book and it had no typos and was perfectly formatted. Highly recommended and I guarantee it will make you want to read on and explore further.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. M. A. Renton on 27 Nov 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book showed me the interwoven lives of several of the Bloomsbury set, giving me the best feel for that 'set' I have come across. A fascinating read by this Journalist.
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