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Orange Prize winner and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, Linda Grant has created an enchanting portrait of a woman who, having endured unbearable loss, finds solace in the family secrets her estranged uncle reveals. In vivid and supple prose, Grant subtly constructs a powerful story of family, love, and the hold the past has on the present. Vivien Kovacs, a sensitive, bookish girl grows up sealed off from the world by her timid Hungarian refugee parents, who conceal the details of their history and shy away from any encounter with the outside world. She learns how to navigate British society from an eccentric cast of neighbors -- including a fading ballerina, a cartoonist, and a sad woman who wanders the city and teaches Vivien to be beautiful. She loses herself in books and reinvents herself according to her favorite characters, but it is through clothes that she ultimately defines herself.
At the beginning of the nineties, Linda Grant's mother began to repeat her questions -- not because she couldn't remember the answers but because she didn't remember having asked. As her mother's onset of Alzheimer's disease worsened, Grant realized that her family history was vanishing along with her mother's memory. Remind Me Who I Am, Again is the powerful story of a disease, of the workings of the mind, and of a daughter's quest to reconstruct the past.
"You can't have depths without surfaces," says Linda Grant in her lively and provocative new book, The thoughtful Dresser, a thinking woman's guide to what we wear. For centuries, an interest in clothes has been dismissed as the trivial pursuit of vain, empty-headed women. Yet, clothes matter, whether you are interested in fashion or not, because how we choose to dress defines who we are. How we look and what we wear tells a story. Some stories are simple, like the teenager trying to fit in, or the woman turning fifty renouncing invisibility. Some are profound, like that of the immigrant who arrives in a new country and works to blend in by changing the way she dresses, or of the woman whose hat saved her life in Nazi Germany.The Thoughtful Dresser celebrates the pleasure of adornment and is an elegant meditation on our relationship with what we wear and the significance of clothes as the most intimate but also public expressions of our identity.
A generational novel which opens memorably in a fur storage house in Los Angeles with its American protagonist as a boy trying on Marilyn Monroe's coat. When he grows up, Stephen goes to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and stays on to avoid the draft and Vietnam. He marries an Englishwoman, and they experience many of the things the baby boomer generation went through. Later the torch is passed to their children. In addition, Stephen's father Si makes a dramatic reappearance after Stephen's mother dies. This is a big, capacious novel, bursting with wonderful characters and ideas.
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