Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910–1939 by Katie Roiphe - review by Frances Wilson

Frances Wilson

Words of Love

Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910–1939

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Uncommon Arrangements explores the dynamics of seven miserable ‘marriages à la mode’. From the hell that was life with H G Wells (‘I am thinking continually’, wrote his wife, who shared him with a harem, ‘of the disappointing mess of it’) to the weirdness of being loved by Radclyffe Hall, each relationship was for the most part a self-consciously hectic arrangement involving a fair amount of bed-hopping and hypocrisy. 

Uncommon Arrangements is really another book about Bloomsbury, as most of the marriages discussed involve either Bloomsberries themselves or those who grew in their shade. We have the union of Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell, a lifeless concoction regenerated for a while by the philosophising of Ottoline’s lover, Bertrand Russell;

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