8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Domestic bliss - not,
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This review is from: Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron and Other Tangled Lives (Hardcover)
If you don't know the story of the (younger) romantic artists and their interconnected lives, as I didn't, then this is fascinating. If you ever thought Shelley, Byron, Keats and co. hid themselves from the world for the sake of their art then this book certainly dispenses with that idea. What you get is the story of the Regency equivalent of Brit Art artists hanging out together, falling in and out of love and in and out of each others beds, their rivalries, their cruelties and, in spite of it all, a powerful sense of their artistic purpose. It focuses on their struggles and their debts and it evokes a time when people died young as a matter of course. I lost count of the number of children who died, never mind the fact that of Shelley, Keats and Byron only the latter managed to get beyond his twenties. All of this is told with great energy, and also understatement, by Daisy Hay, who never seems to claim more than can be confidently asserted given the source material available, and whose only axe, if it can be called that, is to assert that their art grew as much from the inspiration they gained from one another as from their innate genius. She balances being fair to all concerned whilst, at the same time, not sparing us their weaknesses and personal failings. You do feel like you are in the hands of a reliable biographer, and a very entertaining one at that.