Friday, December 2, 2011
Curiouser and curiouser: A Book of Secrets by Michael Holroyd
Really, I was most interested in Eve Fairfax. She fascinated me because I had never heard of her, and she seemed to sit on the edge of so many things. She appears to have suffered greatly for the fact that Beckett never married her and nor did anyone else. As a result, she ended her life destitute and rightly described as a “genteel tragedy”. She was positionless and that was her problem. Her contribution to history appears to have been an enormous scrap book, in which the great and the good were encouraged to write and stick things. We must assume that many of them did so under duress and with a degree of embarrassment. By the time Eve dies, she is 106 years old, and I almost wept for the sadness of her life. I felt that Holroyd was completely right in his comment that although she lived in Victorian and Modern times, she seemed to belong to neither.
A Book of Secrets is exactly that. It is by no means all worked out, but the mysteries are there, as is the desperate desire to know about oneself and others. It has been a pleasure reading it and I recommend it warmly.