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Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Bedford's autobiographical novel paints a vivid picture of life in 1920s Europe between the wars.
From her first novel, A Legacya book admired by novelists (among them Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford), critics, and readers on both sides of the Atlanticto her acclaimed life of Aldous Huxley, Sybille Bedford's writings have given great delight. And all the wit, feeling, and elegance of perception her readers have come to expect are brilliantly present in this, her first book in fifteen years.
She moves now in the borderland between fiction and biography to tell the story of a young woman who will one day be a writer, growing up in the 1920s in a world at one moment bright with grace and pleasure, at the next bewildering and darkand of the lives that touch and color hers.
It is the story of an unsentimental education that begins in the Grand Duchy of Baden, in a small chateau increasingly threadbare after the Great War. Here the narrator's father, who was himself raised "not exactly to money but to the sweetness of life," instructs the solitary child (her mother absent, having taken a lover) in decorums already vanishing.
It is an education suddenly deflected to the dazzling Italian countryside, to the company of the clever, beautiful, and seductive mother who is the lodestar of the narrator's young life, by turns embracing her daughter, banishing her to England and the generosity of others, and calling her backnow no longer to Italy but to Sanary, on the Mediterranean coast of France, where the painter Kisling and his wife, and the Huxleys, Aldous and Maria, are among those who capture the girl's imagination and her heart. Finally we see hersince earliest childhood precociously in charge of herselfas she approaches her twenty-first year, making her way through a society of worldly intelligence whose emotional agenda is far less simple than it seems.
In Jigsaw, Sybille Bedford has movingly conveyed an apprenticeship to life, and to a life's work.
About the Author
Sybille Bedford (1911-2006) was a writer and author, most notably, of four novels, A Legacy, A Compass Error, A Favourite of the Gods, and Jigsaw (all published by NYRB Classics, with A Compass Error and A Favourite of the Gods published as one volume), as well as A Visit to Don Otavio (NYRB Classics), about her travels in Mexico.