A Book of Secrets by Michael Holroyd
Illegitimate Daughters, Absent Fathers

89%

16 Critic Reviews

It is a polite explorative conversation from a distant age, with delicate implications...
-NY Times

Synopsis

A Time Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction book of 2011
A Publishers Weekly Best Nonfiction title for 2011

On a hill above the Italian village of Ravello sits the Villa Cimbrone, a place of fantasy and make-believe. The characters that move through Michael Holroyd's new book are destined never to meet, yet the Villa Cimbrone unites them all.

A Book of Secrets is a treasure trove of hidden lives, uncelebrated achievements, and family mysteries. With grace and tender imagination, Holroyd brings a company of unknown women into the light. From Alice Keppel, the mistress of both the second Lord Grimthorpe and the Prince of Wales; to Eve Fairfax, a muse of Auguste Rodin; to the novelist Violet Trefusis, the lover of Vita Sackville-West—these women are always on the periphery of the respectable world.

Also on the margins is the elusive biographer, who on occasion turns an appraising eye upon himself as part of his investigations in the maze of biography. In A Book of Secrets, Holroyd gives voice to fragile human connections and the mystery of place.

 

About Michael Holroyd

See more books from this Author
Michael Holroyd has written celebrated biographies of Hugh Kingsmill, Augustus John, and Bernard Shaw, as well as the acclaimed Basil Street Blues and Mosaic. He lives in London with his wife.
 
Published August 2, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 273 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Parenting & Relationships, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Aug 28 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for A Book of Secrets
All: 16 | Positive: 16 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
on Aug 04 2011

It is a polite explorative conversation from a distant age, with delicate implications...

Read Full Review of A Book of Secrets: Illegitima... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Excellent
on Aug 04 2011

...in this final offering, this small book bursting with the tremendous generosity of its author, one feels...courage. Sir Michael, I curtsy before you.

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NY Times

Excellent
on Aug 04 2011

This book is a richly marbled meditation not only on the lives of several remarkable women but also on the art of biography itself.

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Guardian

Good
on Nov 13 2010

...in his Book of Secrets he has once again caught the present moment, what we might call the post-biographical mood, perfectly.

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Guardian

Good
on Oct 31 2010

Reading this book is a little like walking through a hall of mirrors into the final party of Proust's great opus.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Mar 28 2011

Holroyd writes like an angel and memorably draws the rivulets of these fluid lives together.

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WSJ online

Good
on Jul 30 2011

Mr. Holroyd discovers a fresh way of reading Trefusis, and he describes the impact of the novels on his own sensibility.

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WSJ online

Good
on Nov 05 2010

He is indisputably the writer who changed the nature of biography more than anyone...

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Kirkus

Good
on Aug 23 2011

...it’s Eve’s book that is perhaps the best illustration of how full a life lived on the margins can be. And what the reader and the historian can miss if they’re only looking at center stage.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
on Nov 08 2010

...A Book of Secrets is truly a book of revelations, of sudden, emotional jolts – it is understated, and more powerful for it.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
on Oct 14 2010

...a small gem of humanity, curiosity and observation with a wonderful, rolling undercurrent of comedy...

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The Bookbag

Good
on Jan 21 2012

In this finely written book he carefully spreads enlightenment as he carefully distinguishes between guesswork, probability and established facts.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent

Holroyd searches out her secrets, tells her story not in chronological time but in emotional time...

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Excellent
on Aug 04 2011

... I delighted in this book. In part this is because Holroyd is so terribly funny...But, more so in his vigorous engagement with the past, his determination to uncover its secrets...

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Boston.com

Excellent
on Aug 28 2011

Even more than in previous ventures, Holroyd has emerged to outshine his biographical subjects.

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The New Republic

Above average
on Aug 09 2011

Although Holroyd’s own character remains its greatest secret, he does not disappear into the Grimthorpes’ faded world.

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Reader Rating for A Book of Secrets
60%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 81 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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