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Quite Nice

Diana Souhami: Fernande Olivier, 13 December 2001

Loving Picasso: The Private Journal of Fernande Olivier 
edited by Marilyn McCully, translated by Christine Baker.
Abrams, 296 pp., £24, May 2001, 0 8109 4251 8
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... Fernande Olivier, like Frank Wedekind’s Lulu, sexualised all her relationships with men and served their desires while lamenting that her own were unfulfilled. She lived through her lovers in order perhaps to gain a passing sense of who she was. As each of her affairs in turn went wrong, she moved to a different man. This was a pattern she repeated until late middle age ...

He saw, he wanted

Jenny Diski: Murder at Wrotham Hill, 8 November 2012

Murder at Wrotham Hill 
by Diana Souhami.
Quercus, 325 pp., £18.99, September 2012, 978 0 85738 283 2
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... about the longer term, Orwell had missed out on a transitional form. In Murder at Wrotham Hill, Diana Souhami has seen the missing piece, and with great clarity and attention to its cultural meanings as well as to the pathos of the protagonists, re-created this casual murder, showing it to be as charmless and petty as the times themselves. The killing ...

Britain’s Second Most Famous Nurse

Susan Pedersen: Edith Cavell, 14 April 2011

Edith Cavell 
by Diana Souhami.
Quercus, 417 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 1 84916 359 0
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... opprobrium that settled on those who exploited her death to send more men to the killing fields. Diana Souhami would like to rescue Cavell from the mountain of tosh said about her after her death, which ignored her values, exploited her execution and discounted the mature deliberation with which she made her choices. (The Bishop of London, for ...

You could scream

Jenny Diski, 20 October 1994

Brando: Songs My Mother Taught Me 
by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey.
Century, 468 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 7126 6012 7
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Greta & Cecil 
by Diana Souhami.
Cape, 272 pp., £18.99, September 1994, 0 224 03719 6
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... in its own way, quite as well developed. Garbo maintained her public silence to the grave and Diana Souhami is not playing ghost to her shade. Greta and Cecil is not a biography of either Garbo or Beaton, but an account of their bizarre relationship, which, at its best, manages, improbably, to turn even the ineffably shallow Cecil Beaton into ...

Love-of-One’s-Life Department

Terry Castle: The lesbian scarcity economy, 21 October 2004

Wild Girls: Paris, Sappho and Art: The Lives and Loves of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks 
by Diana Souhami.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 9780297643869
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... were polite enough not to let on. All this ‘degrees of separation’ maundering is inspired by Diana Souhami’s enjoyably jaded new book on Barney and her circle. Not least because I sort-of-but-not-quite know Souhami herself. No, we’ve never met, but Blakey once sat next to her one summer in the old British ...

Diary

Louise Foxcroft: W.B. Yeats and her great-uncle, 7 September 2000

... accompanied by the painter Gluck, in the summer of 1947. This is what Gluck’s biographer, Diana Souhami, reports: the two women, having searched in vain for Yeats’s grave, questioned the local priest, Abbé Biancheri, and Pierre Reynault, director of Maison Roblot, a firm of undertakers at Menton; they also visited Roquebrune Town Hall. They ...

A Tale of Three Novels

Michael Holroyd: Violet Trefusis, 11 February 2010

... when both women were dead (Violet had died the previous year). In this dual autobiography, as Diana Souhami has pointed out, Nigel Nicolson converted his mother’s vivid and still unpublished description of her liaison with Violet into a defence of her marriage to his father, Harold Nicolson. Some 12 years later, in the mid-1980s, Broderie anglaise ...

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