The Furies

Overview

The four generations of women described in Janet Hobhouse’s autobiographical novel rival the Furies of Greek myth in their capacity to love and hate with vengeance. At the heart of the story is a mother/daughter conflict that is at moments an innocent love affair between romantic co-conspirators and at others a bitter and deforming contest of wills. Hobhouse, who died of ovarian cancer while writing The Furies, takes on the irresolvability of this struggle between safety and liberty, loyalty and defiance, and in ...
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Overview

The four generations of women described in Janet Hobhouse’s autobiographical novel rival the Furies of Greek myth in their capacity to love and hate with vengeance. At the heart of the story is a mother/daughter conflict that is at moments an innocent love affair between romantic co-conspirators and at others a bitter and deforming contest of wills. Hobhouse, who died of ovarian cancer while writing The Furies, takes on the irresolvability of this struggle between safety and liberty, loyalty and defiance, and in what amounts to her last words - told in a voice of unforgettable immediacy - finds that the quest for understanding can itself be a form of letting go.

The poignant, often wryly humorous, sometimes tragic story of a young woman's drive to forge a life and identity of her own making, a life not molded by the sins of her mother. "A sort of Jamesian journey through the labyrinth of the narrator's consciousness . . . an intense tale told at fever pitch."--Boston Globe.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As she did in such previous, highly acclaimed works as Dancing in the Dark , the late Hobhouse (1948-1991) draws freely on her personal story to create this mesmerizing, unforgettable novel. Helen, the narrator, is her alter ego, a woman whose turbulent, increasingly tragic life parallels the author's own. Initially, however, Hobhouse portrays the women in Helen's nominally Jewish, well-bred family, beginning with her matriarchal grandmother, Mirabel. In each generation there are squabbling sisters, improvident marriages, nervous breakdowns, divorce. The daughter of startlingly beautiful but hopelessly immature Bett, Helen as a child adores her mother despite Bett's virtual abandonment of her in boarding school. Later, when the teenage Helen rebels against her mother's claustrophobic neediness, she first seeks solace from her cold, caustic father in England, then in affairs at Oxford and marriage. After the inevitable divorce comes illness--a harrowing journey whose tragedy does indeed seem ordained by the furious fates. Hobhouse tells this increasingly dark story in graceful, assured, often eloquent prose animated by keen, witty observations and illuminated by her laser eye for social conventions and character foibles. Her style is old-fashioned in the best sense: dense with descriptive detail and psychological insight, both in the service of multilayered character delineation. That Hobhouse in effect foreshadowed her own death makes the novel even more poignant and affecting. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This posthumous work by novelist and biographer Hobhouse ( Nellie Without Hugo , LJ 6/1/82; Everybody Who Was Anybody: A Biography of Gertrude Stein , LJ 11/15/75) is a literate combination of the two forms: very much an autobiography, but with the imagination and flow of a novel. The story opens with a genealogical trace of four generations of women: strong grandmothers, quarreling sisters, and artistic aunts, all widowed or abandoned by their men. Finally in the fourth generation is Helen, only child of lovely but unstable Bett. Her British father is long gone and her mother is living alone tenuously, so little Helen is shipped off to a lonely life at a second-rate boarding school. Helen's often painful maturation is a long reconciliation with her mother and a quest for identity. Well done and quietly compelling.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385470544
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st Anchor Books ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.95 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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