Saturday, April 29, 2006

"An Act of Reparation" by Sylvia Townsend Warner

New wife and old wife meet and it all ends up in a tale of ox-tail soup and a subtle sort of revenge. What the husband doesn't know... well, perhaps he will never find out. Read by Scoot. Time 23:59.

Pity poor Sylvia. Gangly, bean-pole, four-eyed Sylvia, sent home from kindergarten and home-schooled by a mother who may have really resented her. All set to go to Germany in 1914 to study with Arnold Schoenberg, until World War I had to go and quash her dream to be a composer. The man she loved was over two decades older than her--and married. Her other lover, a "poetess," died too soon of breast cancer. And then there were the critics. But pity not poor Sylvia! She did have a successful literary life, touching upon Bloomsbury and the "Chaldon school," and her stories would be published in the New Yorker and other magazines for over forty years. She wrote several biographies, helped prepare books on English church music and travel guides, was active in the Communist party when that was still a good and brave thing to do, and collaborated with her longtime partner, Valentine Ackland, on volumes of poetry. In the quiet villages of Dorset and Somerset she created quite a stir with her novels and ended happily mixed with the ashes of Valentine, so it sounds like her pains were worth it.

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