Patrician Poverty

Rosemary Hill

  • Quicksands: A Memoir by Sybille Bedford
    Hamish Hamilton, 370 pp, £20.00, June 2005, ISBN 0 241 14037 4

Beginning in the middle, as she announces at once she intends to do, Sybille Bedford starts her memoir in 1953, the middle, more or less, of her long life and of ‘our frightful century’ whose history is as much her subject as her own peculiar story. Her opening scene is a summer morning in Geneva, where she passed a few hours between trains, a woman in her early forties, ‘free to live where, if not how, I chose’, a neutral observer in a neutral country. It is a brief moment of calm before we plunge from the middle into the midst of events.

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