This is a wonderful companion piece to Sarah Lefanu's brilliant biography of Rose Macaulay and a fascinating book in its own right. I wish that I'd had it by my bed for my own years of writing a biography. Lefanu is marvellous on the oddness of the biographer's life; the sense that you're half living your own life and half living the life of a dead writer, and the excitement and fear this entails. She dreams about Macaulay several times during the course of the diary, and relates every aspect of her own life and thoughts to those of her subject.
Macaulay herself brings a very particular set of challenges which Lefanu confronts head on. Most of all, Lefanu was balancing the demands of writing and motherhood while writing about a woman who for a complex set of reasons had avoided motherhood and often saw family life as incompatible with writing. So too, identifying with Macaulay entailed forming a view of her secret lover of twenty years, Gerald O'Donovan. Passionate, funny, generous and loving, O'Donovan was wonderful as a lover but more flawed as a husband and father. In Dreaming of Rose we see Lefanu living with O'Donovan as well as Macaulay as she gradually comes to see him in the round and to forgive both Macaulay and O'Donovan for seizing their happiness at the expense of others.
Because of the diary format it's all told in an unassuming, daily manner, mixing observations about the nature of biography with daily anecdotes about Lefanu's life as a writer, wife and mother. It's a wise and generous book, heartily recommended to anyone who'd like to know what it's like to write a biography or would just like to know more about Rose Macaulay.
I love this book. Every would-be biographer should read it, but it's a wonderfully enjoyable read for anyone interested in excellent writing and civilised academic research. Le Fanu is a very attractive presence in the book, good-humoured, scholarly. There is something very touching about her occasional and literal dreams of Rose.
This is a terrific book: a wonderfully readable, and very honest, account of biographer Sarah Lefanu's painstaking quest to piece together the truth about her elusive subject, the early twentieth century novelist Rose Macaulay. Presented in the form of a journal, and recounted with the lightest of touches, it manages, at the same, to be hugely entertaining, and to offer profound insights into the life of a writer, and the frustrating but utterly engrossing art of biography. Along the way, there are fascinating echoes of a century of literary history. A superb read in its own right, and a perfect pendant piece to the author's excellent Rose Macaulay: A Biography. Highly recommended.
A lovely book. It's an insightful exploration of the biographer's quest, looking at issues such as dealing with the feelings of surviving relatives and friends of the subject, the search - sometimes frustrating - for information, and how you live with your quest over many years. As someone who both reads and is writing a biography (about a suffragette), I found this book helpful and encouraging. I loved it!