Henrietta Garnett

Reassembling The Jigsaw



Hamish Hamilton 370pp £20 order from our bookshop

Quicksand is Sybille Bedford’s long-awaited autobiography. As with many of her generation (she is ninety-four), hers is a disturbing and moving story. Bedford has written relatively little, and most of what she has written is the same story shown from different points of view. The story is her own. She writes slowly, painstakingly, and finds the act torture. Most writers do. An intriguingly late developer, she has produced three masterpieces (and I do not use the word lightly). A Visit to Don Otavio (1953) purports to be a travel book about Mexico but is really a novel about Don Otavio, a ruined aristocrat whose brothers determine on turning his beautiful eighteenth-century hacienda into the most frightful kind of hotel imaginable. Her much acclaimed first novel, The Legacy (1956), and its sequel, the biographical novel Jigsaw (1989), both teasingly tamper with the truth. Jigsaw was understandably nominated for the Booker Prize.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,
    • 'You are interested in a particular subject; basic research hardens this interest into an obsession, after which th… ,
    • 'Keynes predicted that future generations would enjoy such an improved standard of living that they might work just… ,
    • 'Various dislocations ... emerge, iceberg-like, out of a troubled sea of unconscious motivation and confront Eisenb… ,