When I started work in the late Sixties, literary publishing depended to an extraordinary extent on an army of highly literate women, mostly middle-aged, usually unmarried and always extremely badly paid, who would struggle home every evening and weekend heavily laden with typescripts and proofs to be edited and corrected in their spare time; and on a group of enterprising Jewish émigré publishers who had revitalised the trade immediately after the war. Both groups are integral to Loose Connections, a subtle interlacing of family and professional life.
It takes time to adjust to this book, which darts confusingly between the distant and recent past, family history and publishing life, but persistence pays off. Esther Menell’s parents were Estonian Jews. Her grandfather had pioneered the extraction of oil from shale gas, and other members of the family inherited