Writing in Slightly Foxed, Dodie Smith’s biographer Valerie Grove describes Look Back with Love as ‘one of the happiest and funniest accounts of an Edwardian upbringing’.
And indeed it is. Best known for her first novel I Capture the Castle, for the evergreen The Hundred and One Dalmatians, and for Dear Octopus, her 1938 play set at a family reunion, Dodie Smith did not publish this account of her early life until 1974 when she was 78. Brought up among her mother’s family since her father had died when she was a baby, Dodie spent her childhood surrounded by doting adults. It was the jolliest environment imaginable – the Furbers adored seaside trips, motor-car outings, fairgrounds, circuses, jokes, charades and musical soirées. Above all they loved the theatre, and it was through her bachelor uncles’ involvement in amateur dramatics that she conceived her passion for the stage.
Dodie Smith’s memoir gives a wonderful picture of this large extended family and of life at that time in the ‘basking Sunday afternoon charm’ of Manchester’s Victorian suburbs. And of the funny, complicated, creative little girl who would later say of herself, ‘I think I’m an oddity really, but I do my very, very best to write well’ – which in Look Back with Love she certainly did.
‘In Look Back with Love, published in 1974 when she was 78, lucky readers will find one of the happiest and funniest accounts of an Edwardian upbringing, representing Dodie at her best.’ Valerie Grove
‘Look Back with Love is Dodie Smith’s evocative memoir of growing up in Edwardian Manchester at the heart of a large and cheerful extended family. The young Dodie was a strange little creature, given to all kinds of fears and fantasies, but also with a steely determination to be herself. Look Back with Love brings alive a now distant time and its atmosphere in a way no history book can, and we loved it.’ Gail Pirkis & Hazel Wood, Slightly Foxed Editors
Dodie Smith said she never felt ‘quite grown-up’. This may sound like an excuse for tiresome behaviour, but Dodie did retain all her life a childlike charm, being under five feet tall with a...Read more