Beware of beauty. The cover portrait of Elizabeth Jane Howard transfixes you, but beauty failed to bring her happiness – quite the opposite, in fact. It plays a starring role in Artemis Cooper’s perceptive biography and led Jane (as everyone called her) into a breathtaking number of doomed affairs and three marriages which ended in tears. Men, it appears, were powerless to resist her and she was uncertain enough of her own worth to resist them, more’s the pity.
While Cooper’s last book recounted the swashbuckling, almost picaresque life of Patrick Leigh Fermor, connoisseur of unfamiliar countries and cultures, this biography’s terrain is the landscape of the heart. And here lies the question: how is it that someone who could write with such a sure touch about passion, marriages