Deceived with Kindness : A Bloomsbury Childhood, Paperback

Deceived with Kindness : A Bloomsbury Childhood Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Angelica Garnett may truly be called a child of Bloomsbury.

Her Aunt was Virginia Woolf, her mother Vanessa Bell, and her father Duncan Grant, though for many years Angelica believed herself, naturally enough, the daughter of Vanessa's husband Clive.

Her childhood homes, Charleston in Sussex and Gordon Square in London, were both centres of Bloomsbury activity, and she grew up surrounded by the most talked-about writers and artists of the day - Leonard and Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, the Stracheys, Maynard Keynes, David Garnett (whom she later married), and many others.

But Deceived with Kindness is also a record of a young girl's particular struggle to achieve independence from that extraordinary and intense milieu as a mature and independent woman.

With an honesty that is by degrees agonising and uplifting, the author creates a vibrant, poignant picture of her mother, Vanessa Bell, of her own emergent individuality, and of the Bloomsbury era.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages, 1
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Autobiography: general
  • ISBN: 9780712662666



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Angelica Garnett was the daughter of painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, but she grew up assuming her mother's husband, Clive Bell was her father. Although I knew this fact, I did not know the circumstances. Garnett explains: "But Vanessa knew exactly what she wanted. She persuaded Duncan to give her a child, prepared to take the responsibility on herself provided he remained close to her. For her he was a genius, his offspring destined to be exceptional." Except Angelica's life actually didn't turn out to be that exceptional--odd, yes, but not exceptional. This memoir seems to me to be her way of chasing down and dealing with the demons that came from growing up in Bloomsbury, surrounded by unusual but very intelligent adults and very few children. Vanessa Bell loved her own children, but didn't provide much guidance, as according to Garnett, her goal in life was to be unconventional. Written at the age of 66, this memoir expresses Garnett's feelings of being raised with a lack of real parenting. Deceived With Kindness is an uneven book--some sections were dull, but some absolutely sparkled. I could see the influence of her Aunt Virginia's literary flair. She writes some beautiful passages about Christmases at the Bell family estate, boring winters in London, and annual spring trips in France. I was looking forward to hearing her explain how at the age of 19 she married 48 year old David (Bunny) Garnett, who had once been Duncan Grant's lover, but I found this part completely unsatisfying. <b>Recommended for:</b> Readers who are interested in Bloomsbury, figures in modernism, or bohemian English life from the 1920s through the 1950s. This memoir won the 1985 JR Ackerley Prize for Autobiography, so I'd also recommend it to people who enjoy reading memoirs.