... enthralling ... If the BBC knows its business, The Lost Girls will soon be a sexy, soap-operatic, partner-swapping, highly addictive miniseries ... Today’s readers may feel that Lys, Sonia, Barbara and the others, despite their proclaimed independence, were still defining themselves through the men in their lives. Perhaps so. Still, because of D.J. Taylor’s vivid and affecting group biography, the 'lost girls' will never be lost again.
... an exploratory and sometimes eye-popping slice of social history ... it does not ultimately matter that Taylor’s lost girl idea is a romantic dream, because the real subject of his book is not the scandal and gossip that these girls surrounded themselves with, though there is plenty of that, but the complexity of human beings and how different they can seem to different people ... Taylor is a strikingly versatile writer — novelist, critic, historian, author of the standard biography of Orwell, and the acerbic wit behind Private Eye’s What You Didn’t Miss column ... If you have even a passing interest in human relationships and the imagination, you should not deny yourself the pleasure of reading it.
... enjoyable ... an often very funny chronicle of fiendishly complicated and rackety love lives ... Sometimes even Taylor’s enthusiasm for the arcana of the higher literary life falters as the unglamorous evidence of office life stacks up ... the parties of the past, like charm, charisma, conversation and what Taylor refers to as 'stupendous good looks' are difficult, if not impossible, to recreate for those who weren’t there. Although Taylor’s wry fascination with this moment of British social and intellectual history is infectious and mostly deliciously readable, it does occasionally feel as if he is peering through a grimy wartime window, trying in vain to lip-read the clever chatter of the partygoers inside.
Taylor has a brilliant eye for quotation and Lost Girls is, as well as being a superior group biography, a collection of glittering glimpses of personalities (everyone from Bowen to Waugh, Osbert Sitwell to Nancy Mitford), of prose, and of insights. Taylor’s urbane, acute and stylish presence is everywhere ... The book abounds with piquant detail, while not losing sight of the larger picture ... He also has a good sense of the traps inherent in his project – but, oddly, doesn’t spell them out until quite late, when the reader has already been worrying about them for a good 200 pages ... This reader at least began to long for the idiosyncratic and unmediated voices of women (Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Diana Athill, Elizabeth Jane Howard) who wrote from or about similar (beautiful, privileged, damaged, amorously adventurous, sometimes disturbingly passive, even lost) lives. And to appreciate the fictional woman with whom Taylor began.
... an odd opening to a book that continues to puzzle and mystify. Taylor emphatically says from the outset that this is not a book about Cyril Connolly, which it patently is ... Taylor suggests that Connolly’s attraction lay in his 'superabundant charm', yet gives little evidence to support this claim. The girls were all prepared to put up with his awful behaviour just to be in his orbit and to 'luxuriate in the dazzle of his personality', but the trouble with the book is that we see so little of this dazzle ... With the exception of Skelton, the Lost Girls come across as upper-class groupies, badly educated, unintellectual and short on female solidarity. It would have been interesting to have learnt more about their relationship with one another.
Proponents of today’s #MeToo movement will shudder ... Mr. Taylor’s account of her wild sex life, worthy of a Feydeau farce, is eye-popping. Skelton wrote five books, including a couple of memoirs that are, 'for sustained, score-settling bitchiness, . . . in a class of their own.' True, but fun to read ... [an] nsightful and empathetic group biography.
In The Lost Girls, British biographer D.J. Taylor does a richly researched dive into this transgressive 1940s subculture where men and women changed partners and apartments with equal ease ... At the center is the self-absorbed 'man of letters' Cyril Connolly, a character both fascinating and repellent ... Readers who can’t set aside 21st-century attitudes toward feminism and sexual politics could be dismayed by the scenes of talented women subordinating their goals to Connolly’s ego ... Before judging, Taylor urges readers to take a more historical view of the Lost Girls.
Aspects of the British World War II experience continue to generate fascinating reading ... Extensive research into the papers and letters of these women, their lovers, and other onlookers exposes a web of alliances and dalliances, often woven by Cyril Connolly, editor of Horizon. Their personalities and accomplishments show how significant their contributions were ... A solid choice for readers of 20th-century British literary history or the lives of the British during World War II.