This is an enchanting and wonderfully evocative memoir of Anny Thackery, daughter of the author of Vanity Fair , aunt of Virginia Wolfe (who used her as the model for Mrs Hilbery in Night & Day). Anny was herself a writer and her novels and memoirs were much praised, but she was even more dearly loved for her eccentric, astoundingly muddled ways and her enormous sympathy for others. At the book's heart are two interwoven stories. The first is Anny's near-obsession with her father Thackery, and her startling marriage to a man who was not only eighteen years her junior, but was her secong cousin, and even her godson (they fell in love when he was still at school). The second, tragic strand is the tale of her sister Minny's passionate marriage to Leslie Stephen, the craggy, moody, mountain-climbing father of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Wolfe. The book also, inevitably, paints the world of Anny's inticate web of relations and friends - children's parties with the Dickens family, chaotic holidays with Julia Margaret Cameron and the Tennysons on the Isle of Wight, a dash to help a spinster aunt stuck in Paris during the seige of 1870, intimate scenes with Browning in Rome and Ruskin o
Henrietta Garnett is the daughter of Angelica Garnett, granddaughter of the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and daughter-in-law of the diarist Frances Partridge. She lives in France.