The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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June 5, 2020

Only connect: Anne Glenconner and Pamela Wyndham

It was a treat to wake up on the Friday morning before the long Memorial Day weekend to an email telling me that a ebook I had on hold -- that I hadn't expected to get for months -- was available.

Anne Glenconner was a maid of honor at Queen Elizabeth's coronation, and later a lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.  As it turns out, I enjoyed the book very much in parts, but on the whole not as much as I had hoped to.

{Anne is third from the left.}

However ... with all of the biographies and memoirs and letters that I read, I always love it when one person's life connects with another's, someone else who I've read about, or want to {'reading' the bibliography at the end of a book is one of my favorite things, almost as much as poring over a family tree}.

Here, Lady Glenconner is writing about her husband, Colin Tennant ...
Eccentricity ran in the family:  there were stories of bacon rashers being used as bookmarks, of the rooftops at Glen being climbed at night, and of horses being ridden into the house. Colin's paternal grandmother, Pamela, was one of the Wyndham sisters immortalized in John Singer Sargent's painting 'The Three Graces,' which now hangs in the Metroplitan Museum of Art in New York. ... all of Colin's relations had a palpable charm and would use it seduce a room effortlessly. And, like Pamela Wyndham, they all behaved liked spoiled children. It was a trait that defied age. Apparently, Pamela Wyndham would turn around from the table in stubborn silence if she felt she wasn't being paid enough attention -- Colin used to tell people that she was known to lie down and bite the carpet when lost in a rage. She had dressed her child, Stephen Tennant, Colin's uncle, as a girl throughout his early childhood because she had wanted a daughter instead of a son.

{Pamela is in the center.}

Those Wild Wyndhams, Claudia Renton's book about the Wyndham sisters,  was in my pile of unread books so of course that's where I went next. {I was so happy that I owned it and didn't have to wait for the library to re-open...} I love John Singer Sargent's paintings {I've been to the Met several times, but I'm not sure if I've seen this painting there.}  The book opens with a description of the painting of the portrait, which was commissioned by their father, so I was drawn in immediately, and later we learn how it was sold off to the Met by their spendthrift nephew. But in between, I've spent the last two weeks with these women and their families, and I'm going to miss them.

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
Hachette Books, 2020
E-book, borrowed from the library

Claudia Renton, Those Wild Wyndhams:  three sisters at the heart of power
William Collins, 2014
From my shelves


Karen K. said...

I love John Singer Sargent! I've been to the Met several times (my daughter is normally at college in NYC); but I don't think I've seen this one. I checked their website and it's on display when they're open. Someday when everything is reopened I'll have to go and see this in person. And the book sounds so intriguing!

I'm also

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

I love when books overlap like this! I just started Lady in Waiting last night and can imagine it would lead to LOTS of related reading - she seems to have known/been related to just about everyone.

Thank you for visiting!

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