A few months ago I wrote about Ivy Compton-Burnett’s Parents and Children, and a few of you said you hadn’t read the great lady before, but would be interested… I’m looking at you, farmlanebooks, Simon S, Paperback Reader, and Pamela Terry! I recently read Robert Liddell’s Elizabeth and Ivy, about the friendship between Elizabeth Taylor and Ivy C-B, after seeing the book mentioned in Nicola Beauman’s biography of Elizabeth Taylor (reviewed here). It’s an interesting book, mostly because Liddell had the (possibly unique) advantage of being friends with both writers, but it’s also rather clumsy at times. He quotes a lot of the letters, and Taylor had a disconcerting habit of transcribing lengthy conversations in her letters… quoting layers of quoting gets rather confusing. Still, a good resource.
But that’s not what I’m writing about – since some of you expressed interest in ICB, I wondered if you’d got any further, and whether or not people would be interested in doing a group read of one of her novels? You’ll either love or hate, and you’ll know by about page 10. I’ll do this quite informally, but I’d like to know who’d be interested – we could read, say, Manservant and Maidservant alongside each other, comparing notes, and it will act as a first step into the world of Ivy. And, quite possibly, a last step – but I definitely think you should test the water. For my money, Ivy C-B is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. And trust the prophet not to be appreciated in her own land – scandalously, none of her books are in print in the UK, though the New York Review of Books Classics does a rather beautiful edition of Manservant and Maidservant, pictured. (It was originally published in the US as Bullivant and the Lambs, but has been reprinted under the original, English title).
Let me know if you’re interested, and hopefully we’ll get something going before long!