Henry James's theme of the New World (naïve, upright, puritanical) confronting the Old (steeped in sophisticated and unscrupulous charm) is here explored by a novelist who has witnessed two world wars. Her protagonist is Constanza, a beautiful Italian-American pagan born to privilege and happiness-a seeming favourite of the gods. But in the years of her maturity she becomes aware of what she lacks-a purpose and a part. Who am I, she asks, and what is it I can do? This, writes Bedford, is not a poor little rich girl's plaint. It is the quest that lurks within every human creature fortunate to lift its head above the daily grind.Bedford's genius is for writing about people. [Her] excellence is immortal, her career one of great distinction in literature.-Peter Levi.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sybille Bedford's first novel A LEGACY is absolutely brilliant.It's fictionalized history and biography of a highly sophisticated strata of pre WW1 cosmopolitan society that's as dead as a dodo.I read it some time ago and it admittedly stimulated high expectations which A FAVOURITE OF THE GODS doesn't altogether live up to.It's not that FAVOURITE isn't a very good, enjoyable novel.It most assuredly is.Yet there is something superficial and even a bit soapoperaish about it.I don't think it digs all that deep.Essentially it's the story of American Anna who marries an Italian prince and begets Constanza .Anna's marriage collapses because she can't tolerate what the prince takes for granted,his right to commit adultery as a matter of course.As the novel progresses Anna descends into an unpleasant priggish neurosis that harms everyone around her.Her daughter Constanza turns out to be a bit more like her father , to her mothers horror .Constanza marries an English up and comer named...
I love her travelogue writings that give you a window into her mind during some very eventful decades. Definitely a must read for the Sybille Bedford reader.
[...] Not one to judge a book merely by it's cover, I picked it up, and was thrust into the lives of three women: Anna (a American women who marries an Italian prince), Constanza (their offspring), and Flavia (Constanza's daughter). Since the book was written in the 50's, I had trouble understanding some parts of it. (Hey! I'm an '80s child!) The book also all took place before the end of 1929. However, despite a few areas where I was confused, I found the book to be descriptive, sometimes a bit much in some areas (leading off into tangents that made no sense), but for the most part the details added to the reader's enjoyment in taking in the "Old World" of Italy, France, and England. The relationships between mothers and daughters are explored in great detail, and so are their often odd relationships with men. We can actually see a little of each woman in her mother. The ending was a bit unsatisfying, but overall, not a bad read.
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