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|Title||:||The Rainbow Comes and Goes|
|Number of Pages||:||245 Pages|
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The Rainbow Comes and Goes Reviews
Read from February 25-26, 2017.Shelved Jan. 28, 2017.I was led to this book under false pretenses!In his fantastic book Old Money, Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. quoted Lady Diana Cooper getting depressed about William Paley's house Kiluna Farm, which during her stay featured luxurious place settings, pyramids of fruit in one's room, lotions and potions in the bathroom, all things "unattainable to us tradition-ridden tired Europeans." Aldrich's point was that Paley was very much trying to be more Old Money than he was, thinking his hostly accoutrements were simple and sparse. (One suspects there's maybe some false modesty on Cooper's part here.) In the endnotes, Aldrich ascribed Cooper's quote to her memoir The Rainbow Comes and Goes. But it wasn't there! The memoir finishes sometime in the 1920s, shortly after Diana's marriage to Duff Cooper, long before she has met Paley.Diana Manners was born to the 8th Duke of Rutland(1) and Violet Lindsay Manners in 1892. Her grandfather, and upon his death her father, owned Belvoir -in addition to their London house. The grounds and many rooms of Belvoir were open to the public three days a week. "In the summer my mother arranged for us children to picnic out and not to return until the hordes had departed for in truth the atmosphere - the smell - was asphyxiating." The Duchess of Rutland (mom) considered common not just the common people, but tomatoes and lemon as flavoring, dyed fur, holding hands, kissing on the mouth rather than the cheek, and Germany except for its music. You would think the owners of Belvoir might feel secure in their wealth, but by 1906 the income tax had reached elevenpence per pound, and "every successive penny rise plunged us again into fear of the workhouse."Diana was lightly homeschooled and for her entire life suffered an inability to do division. Nor was multiplication her strong suit, as she informed her fiance in a letter once that 8 pounds a week came out to more than 200 pounds a year. Life was gay, so gay, endless rounds of parties, siblings, friends, and young men. She was considered a great beauty and courted by many of them. Many of these aristocratic young men (although not her intended, Duff Cooper) were also killed in the Great War, which cast a semi-pall over the gaiety. Most of her memoir is gay, gay, gay, there's a long chapter consisting of the letters between them when he is at the front, and after they marry in 1919, she attempts to get into the film industry as an actress. Here the memoir abruptly ends.Whether it's peacetime and things are going well or wartime and everyone around them is dying, the swells are unable to depart from their inane bubbly babble. Margarine may have replaced butter, but there are still endless amounts of champagne, unstoppable frivolity, and twentysomethings with the demeanor of toddlers. "The Coterie" was Diana's clique of swells (just as her mother had belonged to an earlier arty clique called "The Souls"). In August 1914 Diana wrote a letter to Edward Horner, who would soon be dead: "Edward darling, I think it's up to the Coterie to stop this war. What a justification! My scheme is simple enough to be carried out by you at once. It consists of getting a neutral country, either America or Spain or Italy or any other you can think of, to ask each fighting country to pledge their word...to cease hostilities, or rather suspend them totally until a treaty or conference is made....For God's sake, see to it...How splendid it would be.... Do see to it."Against her mother's wishes, Diana became a volunteer war "nurse". These passages were among the book's dullest.The war could be entertainment. "I had limped to Welbeck Street to have dinner with Alan Parsons on the night of the first Zeppelin raid. In a trice we were on the roof of his house to watch the fun and being hauled off it by an old char who thought us foolish." Later, more champagne, dancing, and songs of Debussy.In a 1917 letter to Duff: "Later at Wimborne House arrived Jenny [Lady Randolph] Churchill and Maud Cunard, both a little tipsy, dancing and talking wildly. They had been walking and had got scared and had stopped for a drink. Maud had a set purpose to get to the opera, because it being a raid night the public required example. She really, I expect, wanted to die with Thomas Beecham if Covent Garden was to be hit. So we let her out at ten. I hope she was all right. The streets are opaque black with only the dear brave mauvais sujets about, thieving and vicing....I've ordered myself chemises embroidered in hand-grenades and a nightgown with fauns."The most interesting passages, and there weren't many of them, entailed Diana and Duff telling each other about the books they were reading. Diana: "I slept all the afternoon while Mother drew me, and then woke and went out and bought What Maisie Knew because James is such a conspicuous gap in my reading, but I couldn't manage a single page without dropping off..."Duff, writing from the front: "I have just finished The Brothers Karamazov and I don't think I need ever read another Dostoievski, need I? He is the great writer I like least. He heads my heresies. I am now enjoying Eminent Victorians. I love your markings. I don't think he is good on Manning but my criticism is rather too complicated to explain. You can't write well about a man unless you have some sympathy or affection for him, and he obviously has none either for Manning or for Newman. It is very easy and obvious to mock at people who worry about religion and especially about small points of doctrine. What is interesting is that the Victorians, Manning, Newman, Gladstone, Acton - all cleverer men than Strachey - really were worried to death about these things. Strachey seems to me to make no effort to understand them or to represent what they felt and what was their point of view, but simply to show how very funny their religious worries appear seen from a detached and irreligious standpoint, and he rather suggests that in so far as they had religious worries at all they were either mad or insincere. He doesn't write like an historian but like a pamphleteer. You don't feel reading him as you do when reading Gibbon that he is looking down from the heights of knowledge and wisdom upon "the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind" and that he cannot occasionally refrain from sneering at them. You feel rather than he is out to sneer, that he is like an agile quick-witted guttersnipe watching a Jubilee procession."(1) Not true; her biological father was apparently a man named Harry Cust. There is a photo of Harry in the memoir and he is described as a friend of the family whom she dearly loved....it's not clear if she knew Cust was her father in 1958 when she published the book.
I feel sure that this book was referred to in the creation of the TV series Downton Abbey. Many of the same names and houses are referenced. For me, the book was interesting to a point. It's an autobiography and the begins with the childhood of Lady Diana Manners who would marry Duff Cooper and become Lady Diana Cooper. Duff Cooper was her social inferior and financial inferior as well.At some point the books becomes confusing because of all the names and people. If you read it, you might take some notes when someone knew enters the scene. I did enjoy how she captured the life of the aristocrats in Europe during Belle Epoque (her father was a duke). I also appreciated how she captured the devastation of World War I. I did not enjoy reading the letters between her and Duff Cooper. The book ends when Diana gets an acting part and she will be going to New York for six months. She's newly married at this point and Duff Cooper is a civil servant who makes less money than she does. This may be the reason that he was a philanderer. At any rate, she stops the book before having mention the scandals.
The story of Lady Diana Manners' early years and marriage to Duff Cooper. Told , for the most part, from letters beteeen the two during WWI. Interesting history of the time with many references to leading literary figures of the day. Not a totally easy read, but worthwhile for history buffs.
The biography of a glamorous socialite, with some historical value, but of little interesting content.
Unusual and heartbreaking at times
What a wonderful memoir! Lady Diana Cooper reveals her life from her girlhood as Lady Diana Manners to her marriage to Duff Cooper, the love of her life. In between the reader is taken through the horrific days of the first World War, the loss of so many of the bright young men of the generation, many of whom were close friends or admirers of Lady Diana. Her struggle as a volunteer nurse working with the wounded soldiers, the long hours and the horrific sites are written of in a poignant and yet honest style. Her hopes and dreams for her future become more meaningful as we get to know the young woman; this propelled me to continue on to the next volume in her three-part autobiography.
As different from Testament of Youth as imaginable, yet with similar themes - a young woman breaking free of the Victorian parlour to become a VAD nurse, and the many beloved men in her life who were lost in the First World War. Aristocratic Lady Diana, considered the most beautiful young woman in England, writes with a lighter voice, as if her vibrant personality was never completely daunted by the hardships and sorrows.