Diana Holman-Hunt, My Grandmothers and I
Diana Holman-Hunt spent her Edwardian childhood shuttling between two wildly contrasting grandparents. Her paternal grandmother, the eccentric widow of the Pre-Rapaelite painter Holman Hunt, lived entirely in the past in her big gaunt house in Kensington, while her mother’s mother, in her comfortable and well-ordered home on the edge of the Sussex marshes, lived entirely in the present. Both competed for Diana’s affection while being spectacularly blind to her needs. My Grandmothers and I is Diana’s touching and darkly funny memoir of that time – a small comic masterpiece of pitch-perfect dialogue and deadpan observation.
Harold Carlton, Marrying Out
This darkly comic story of a Jewish family’s rise and fall is seen through the eyes of the teenage Harold Carlton, lightly disguised as ‘Howard Conway’. But you don’t have to be Jewish to recognize the characters in this dysfunctional family – Howard’s dyspeptic and dominating father; his delightful but dissatisfied mother; his brother and sister, who provide a kind of background chorus; lovable, easy-going Grandad, with his surprise secret life; and glorious, ghastly Grandma, the arch manipulator and expert in emotional blackmail. A brilliantly observed study of family dynamics, and of a certain kind of Jewish life in 1950s North London.
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