Seymour is cleareyed but gentle, ably redeeming a steely, resourceful woman from her decades as a 'humorless despot.' For the most part she steps aside and lets these two forces of nature speak for their eloquent selves. The result is a rich narrative, though one that can leave the reader stranded among headlong peregrinations and pinballing emotions.
Miranda Seymour puts everything straight in this magnificent, highly readable double biography, which brings these two driven, complicated women vividly to life ... In Seymour’s hands, Annabella’s pioneering work at last assumes the status it deserves ... This is a very fine book. Written with warmth, panache and conviction, its formidable research is lightly worn. The footnotes alone are a joy.
Meticulously researched ... A skilled and experienced biographer, Seymour weaves her way through cobwebby curtains of rumor and gossip, showing how tabloid intrusions are nothing new, privacy has always been won at a price, and reputation—the judgment of the public—remains a slippery, fragile thing ... The combination of pure mathematics and agonized personal passions gives Seymour’s book an arresting power.