We Laughed, We Clowned

Michael Wood

  • The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling by Natalie Robins
    Columbia, 399 pp, £25.00, June 2017, ISBN 978 0 231 18208 9

It was an anxious, analysed time, where everything was shifting and complicated except the enduring family romance, the troublesome siblings, the failure to escape the baleful relation with mum and dad. It was a time, as Natalie Robins says in one of her wry moments, ‘when paediatricians functioned as parents, psychiatrists and book critics; when psychoanalysts functioned as judges; and when most mothers and fathers were considered slightly off course’. She is talking about the 1950s in New York, but the picture seems to work for the whole book, which takes us from the start of the 20th century to its end. Diana Trilling was born in the East Bronx in 1905, and died in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in 1996.

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