Life in Squares: does the Bloomsbury group drama go far enough?

Published in The Independent on Sunday on July 26, 2015

Within the first five minutes of Life in Squares, the BBC’s major new drama about the Bloomsbury Group, two corsets are ripped off – and summarily chucked out of a window with a cry of “freedom!” It’s a statement of intent from sisters Vanessa and Virginia Stephens, a literal throwing off of restrictive Victorian convention, before they became the beating heart of the bohemian social circle of artists and thinkers named after the London neighbourhood in which they lived in the early 20th century. Continue reading “Life in Squares: does the Bloomsbury group drama go far enough?”

Virginia Woolf should live on, but not because of her death

Published in The Guardian on May 27, 2015

Virginia Woolf may be famous for her death – she drowned herself in 1941 – but she is enjoying an uncommonly busy afterlife. A seemingly unending stream of novels, plays and films seek to re-animate her, fictionalising Woolf’s life – and death. And it ripples out: her wider circle, the Bloomsbury group, are also regularly brought back to life for our entertainment. Continue reading “Virginia Woolf should live on, but not because of her death”

Review: Adeline – a Novel of Virginia Woolf, Norah Vincent

Published in The Independent on Sunday on April 5, 2015

In the life of Virginia Woolf – and her friends, lovers and rivals – Norah Vincent has rich, if frequently plundered, source material. Bloomsbury’s tangled, talented lives provoke as much interest as their art, and this is at least the third novel about Woolf in the past year.

Written elegantly in rather Woolfian free indirect style, and with spiky, erudite dialogue, Vincent’s portraits are grounded in thick historical research. In truth, Adeline groans with it – would these people really spell out the importance of friends’ (now-famous) books or enumerate their (now-infamous) sexual histories in conversation? Vincent is, however, assured enough to do a rare thing: to really ventriloquise Woolf on the topic of her work and creative imagination. Continue reading “Review: Adeline – a Novel of Virginia Woolf, Norah Vincent”