Vanessa and Her Sister (Hardcover)
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January 2015 Indie Next List
“This novel tells the story of sisters Vanessa and Virginia Stephens, later to become Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Vanessa, an emerging painter, tells their stories in her journal accompanied by the letters and telegrams of their families, husbands, and the many brilliant artists and painters in their circle. It is a story of art, literature, betrayal, emotional upheaval, and, above all, the many complicated forms love takes. Set against the backdrop of Edwardian England, a time of sweeping social transformations, Vanessa and Her Sister is a moving portrait of a brilliant family.”
— Staci Rice, Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, KS
A "New York Times "Notable Book An "Entertainment Weekly " Must List Pick Prepare to be dazzled. Paula McLain Quite simply astonishing. Sarah Blake
What if Virginia Woolf's sister had kept a diary? For fans of "The Paris Wife" and "Loving Frank" comes a spellbinding new story of the inseparable bond between Virginia and her sister, the gifted painter Vanessa Bell, and the real-life betrayal that threatened to destroy their family. Hailed by "The New York Times" "Book Review "as an uncanny success and based on meticulous research, this stunning novel illuminates a little-known episode in the celebrated sisters glittering bohemian youth among the legendary Bloomsbury Group.
London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf's book review has just been turned down by "The" "Times." Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa's constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, "Vanessa and Her Sister" exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.
Praise for "Vanessa and Her Sister"
Fiction and history merge seamlessly in this dazzling novel. "Entertainment Weekly"
Being related to Virginia Woolf can t have been easy. In this delightful novel, Parmar re-imagines the brilliant, fragile writer and her turn-of-the-century bohemian friends, the famous Bloomsbury set. . . . You ll be spellbound. " People"
Rarely do you encounter a woman who commands as much admiration as does the painter Vanessa Bell in Priya Parmar's multilayered, subtly shaded novel. . . . She has caught the phantom. "The New York Times Book Review"
A] gossipy, entertaining historical novel . . . Parmar conjures a devastating fictional portrait. "USA Today"
Captivating . . . echoes of Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" emerge in Parmar's portrayal. "Newsday"
An elegant, entertaining novel that brings new life to the Bloomsbury Group's intrigues. "The Dallas Morning News.
About the Author
Educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Oxford, Priya Parmar is the author of one previous novel, "Exit the Actress." She divides her time between Hawaii and London.