John Grigg’s portrait of Nancy Astor is, in its presentation, attractive, extravagant, socially orientated and entertaining – a portrait of which one suspects Nancy Astor would have approved wholeheartedly. The fundamental contradictions in Nancy Astor’s temperament and philosophy, and the intrinsic tension between her life as a socialite and her life as a social reformer are not easily explained. John Grigg attributes to Nancy Astor a lingering and detailed memory of the squalor of her early life (before her father made his fortune on the American railroads) and believes that the determination to be freed, and to free others, from the restrictions of poverty was one of the driving forces of her career. It is certainly a tribute to her character that she retained her credibility amongst her constituents whilst refusing to deny the privileged and aristocratic life she led as the wife of one of the wealthiest men in the country.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'It’s history from a bird’s-eye view. From that perspective, we humans are a passing phenomenon.'
Nigel Andrew on three contrasting books about birds by @RSmythFreelance, @JenGAckerman & @JonathanSlaght.
Sign up to our e-newsletter and get highlights from the new issue and gems from the archive, as well as exclusive competitions and subscription offers straight to your inbox.
'These are first thoughts, but they’re made to last, in a way that makes you wonder how well something that feels so raw really can last.'
@sarahditum weighs up the final book in Ali Smith's seasonal quartet.