Joanna Hodgkin: Amateurs in Eden
Amateurs in Eden: The Story of a Bohemian Marriage
Trumpeted as the tale of a bohemian marriage, between the writer Lawrence Durrell and his first wife, Nancy Myers, this is more of an insight into why their marriage failed. The book is by Myers’s daughter from her second marriage, and she defends her mother’s position. Although the bohemians they socialised with later wrote that she was largely silent, Hodgkin says this was because Durrell eroded his wife’s confidence. As a teenager Myers had defied her parents to study at the Slade School of Fine Art, in London. As much as she fell for Durrell, she was enchanted by his family, including his brother Gerald, who wrote My Family and Other Animals , recording the years they spent in Corfu. The book begins in a formal style, reflecting the Edwardian era Myers sought to shake off, but is increasingly animated as Hodgkin identifies with her mother’s suffering and eventual escape from the marriage, via Egypt and then Palestine as the second World War broke out.