'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parma

For fans of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank comes a captivating novel that offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Vanessa Bell, her sister Virginia Woolf, and the controversial and popular circle of intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group.

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.

The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

I loved this book! It is written in an Epistolary style. I received a copy for review from Netgalley over a year ago and just now got around to reading it. I'm so glad I did!

I've never read a Virginia Woolf book. I have a couple on the shelf and for sure want to read them now. After reading this book though, I don't like Virginia Woolf. Yes she was mentally unstable, but she was a selfish person and the things she did to her sister were just rotten! 

Seems like Vanessa Bell was always under the shadow of her sister's fame, even though she was quite talented herself. I'm so glad she was the star of this book. I loved getting to know her. I liked her and hated for the book to end.

The book is visually attractive, the postcards tucked in between diary entries and the chapter headings. And I really appreciated the listing of who's who at the beginning of the book, as there are quite a lot of people in the Bloomsbury group to keep track of. A fascinating read.

Purchase it...

Peggy Ann


  1. I always think it's interesting to find that 'famous' people knew other 'famous' people before they were 'famous'. LOL

    This one sounds interesting and I'm always attracted to books written in epistolary style. I'll keep it in mind.

    1. I do too, Kay. And in this group they had the opportunity to be buying artwork for cheap that is now worth a lot of money!

  2. I like this style in books, "Epistolary style." Just can't spell the word. Mess up every time. I would like to read this one.

    1. LOL! I know, Tea I had to look it up for this post. I love this format too!

  3. Late comment from me, Peggy Ann. Here it is November and all. BUT, I do love epistolary novels. Hadn't heard of this one until I saw your review. I will definitely be wanting to get my hands on this. Sounds an absolute treat.


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