The Unspoken Truth: A Quartet of Bloomsbury Stories by Angelica Garnett - review by Anne Chisholm

Anne Chisholm

Group Therapy

The Unspoken Truth: A Quartet of Bloomsbury Stories


Chatto and Windus 290pp £15

Given this collection’s subtitle – ‘A Quartet of Bloomsbury Stories’ – the reviewer is for once permitted , even encouraged, to relate a piece of fiction directly to events in the writer’s life. Angelica Garnett, who at ninety-one has certainly, after the death of Frances Partridge in 2004, become the inspirational survivor of Bloomsbury, here presents fictionalised versions of four episodes from her own experience. She has already written about three of them in her remarkable memoir, Deceived with Kindness, first published in 1984. That book told some hard truths about Bloomsbury and the damage it could do to the young and innocent. This new book is both fascinating and disconcerting, as she gives the kaleidoscope of her memory another twist.

In the opening story she writes of Bettina, a little girl growing up in an artistic household dominated by a powerful painter mother. This is clearly Charleston, the house near Lewes where Angelica was born and which survives little changed to this day, with its pond and walled

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