The gifted biographer Miranda Seymour wrote Life on the Edge, her biography of Robert Graves, with the full co-operation of Graves’ family and with exclusive access to previously unseen papers. In the midst of this research she also found what would prove the inspiration for her brilliant novel The Telling, based on real events in 1939 when Graves and fellow poet (and mistress) Laura Riding spent the summer with a young American couple they hadn’t met previously,
At the core of The Telling is the character of Nancy Brewster: estranged from her family and from her past by a horrifying episode which she has buried for 25 years, she survives as a hermit in her old family home on New England’s North Shore. But there she reflects on her agonised girlhood, impulsive marriage, and disastrous friendship with the malevolent Isabel March.
The Sunday Times thought The Telling ‘a luminous but chillingly tenebrous tale of malice, marital insecurity and ordinary madness.’ Pat Barker praised it as ‘one of the most skilful depictions of the power of evil I had read in a long time.’
We have one copy to give away to the winner of our quiz. To win, first take a look at the following question:
Name the book by Robert Graves on ‘poetic myth’ which is widely believed to have been strongly influenced by Graves’ relationship with Laura Riding.