"The Furies shares the same virtuosic prose of (Hobhouse's) earlier fiction and at the same time moves beyond it, to become a sad, beautiful--and profoundly affecting--meditation on love and death and family."--The New York Times
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Janet Hobhouse (1948–1991) was raised in New York City and educated at Oxford. She lived in London and New York and was the author of two works of non-fiction, The Bride Stripped Bare, a study of the female nude in art, and Everybody Who Was Anybody: A Biography of Gertrude Stein, and four novels, Nellie Without Hugo, Dancing in the Dark, November, and The Furies, which was published after her death from ovarian cancer at the age of forty-two.
Daphne Merkin is the author of Enchantment, a novel and Dreaming of Hitler, a collection of essays. Her cultural criticism has appeared in a range of publications, including Vogue and The American Scholar, and has been widely anthologized. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker, and is currently a contributing writer at Elle and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in New York City, where she teaches writing, and is at work on a memoir, Melancholy Baby.
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.
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