Vanessa and Her Sister

  • by Priya Parmar
  • Narrated by Emilia Fox, Clare Corbett, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Daniel Pirrie, Anthony Calf
  • 10 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For fans of The Paris Wife and Loving Frank comes a captivating novel that offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Vanessa Bell, her sister Virginia Woolf, and the controversial and popular circle of intellectuals known as the 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Vanessa and her Sister

Very good book. Draws in the reader, immerses the reader in the historical art and literary scene of the day. It was quite interesting to have a glimpse of Virginia Wolfe as a sibling might have viewed her.
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- M. J. Dana

No Sparkle, No Brilliance; Bloomsbury Bores.

Because this book was about Vanesssa Bell & Virginia Woolf, I stuck it out to the end hoping it would have some sort of interesting windup. But alas, this author manages to make the fascinating and artistic Bloomsbury group boring. While the book starts off reasonably interesting, with some beautiful language and interesting descriptions of the environments where the family spends its time. But as the novel winds on, the tension between Vanessa and Virginia becomes no more interesting than a sibling rivalry between a manic depressive and a boring housewife who dabbles in painting. While there are plenty of allusions in Vanessa's diary and the letters of their circle to Virginia's brilliance, it never actually shows - the only part of Virginia we see is is either talking baby talk or shrieking to herself. Though Bell was a talented and important painter, all we see is housewifely exhaustion and boring details about her babies. The farther into the book you go, the more repetitive it gets. ZZZ.

Narrator does a fantastic job.
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- Margaret

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-30-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio