RaveThe Spectator (UK)... a magical book of exhilarating complexity, the story of blood, bird shit, tears and hope ... Featherhood is a book that swoops and soars with a luminosity of language worn with the lightness of a gossamer wing, a book filled with scenes of semi-hallucinogenic beauty in which an arrival in a forest carpeted with ‘sweetly scented chamomile’ causes footsteps to ‘bruise aroma from the leaves’ and where a magician’s ‘near-invisible spider-silk thread charms notes from thin air’. Written with heart-stopping honesty, this is a book of unspooling secrets which shock, challenge and make you laugh aloud; one in which a bird’s bluebottle-and-beetle birthday cake is at once ‘strangely beautiful and stomach churningly foul’, and where even the gory, moving immediacy of death demonstrates the omnipresent fight for survival ... Featherhood challenges our perception of creatures of the wild, celebrates the certainties of romantic commitment and prompts a profound reconsidering of the nature of patriarchal love.
RaveThe Spectator (UK)Once in a while, just at the right moment, a truly gorgeous real-life love story appears out of the blue, or in this case...the wonderful (and superlatively edited) seat-of-the-pants romance of Eileen Alexander and fellow Cambridge student Gershon Ellenbogen ... Never far from quoting her favorite poets, among them Donne, Wordsworth and Shakespeare, Eileen has an insatiable eye for funny stories amid the strange circumstances of war. There are echoes of intimate, Mitfordian shorthand—‘mollicking’ stands for kissing, ‘wantonness’ for copulation and ‘wild oats’ describes those who are rather too free with their favors—and a touch of the self-deprecating, self-doubting Bridget Jones about her. Putting her foot in it with her out-spoken grittiness, an Emma Woodhouse is also at work here as Eileen relishes, encourages and prudishly disapproves of romances that acquire a peculiar concentration during wartime lockdown ... during the earthquake of war and at other moments of national catastrophe when loneliness, fear and uncertainty can bring despair, flares of hope and Eileen’s discovery of the ‘core of warm serenity’ found in letters, in reciprocated love and within inspirational people can reverse the mood. These are such letters, theirs was such a love and Eileen Alexander such a delicious inspiration.