Mosaic: Portraits in Fragments by Michael Holroyd - review by Diana Athill

Diana Athill

Family Fortunes

Mosaic: Portraits in Fragments

By

Little, Brown 283pp £19.99 order from our bookshop
 

Michael Holroyd says in his preface that he intended this book to be a postscript to his family memoir Basil Street Blues, but that it became a separate entity, composed so that 'anyone can follow the narrative without having read, or remembered, the earlier work'. And of course it can be so followed; but I think a reader of it gains a good deal from familiarity with the memoir. Much of the new book is taken up with accounts of how Holroyd discovered more about people he already knew (or knew about), and filly to appreciate this 'more', one needs to have shared with him the 'less' he started out with.

The mosaic he constructs is in six parts. The first captures briefly, but with wonderful precision, the way in which after a parent's death, out of the cloud of grief, guilt, relief, shame and love which muffles the event there can float a clear image of that parent as him-

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