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A stunningly original account, revolutionary in technique, examining the character of the great Romantic poet Lord Byron through the lives and deadly rivalry of the two women he left behind. The heart of David Crane’s account is the lifelong feud between Augusta—Byron’s half sister with whom he had a passionate affair—and Annabella, his society wife, both of whom bore himA stunningly original account, revolutionary in technique, examining the character of the great Romantic poet Lord Byron through the lives and deadly rivalry of the two women he left behind. The heart of David Crane’s account is the lifelong feud between Augusta—Byron’s half sister with whom he had a passionate affair—and Annabella, his society wife, both of whom bore him daughters. Crane reimagines the famous meeting between the two women years after Byron’s death, a chillingly dramatic scene through which he explores the emotional and sexual truths that lay at the center of these tragic relationships. In the encounter between the two women—one in chronic ill health, the other dying—we have the ultimate display of their mutual obsession with the memory and compulsive influence of Byron that makes their story that of the Romantic Age itself.It is a story full of dubious motives, especially Annabella’s “saving” of Augusta and her child, Medora, and her twisted revenge on them both. And as the curses of incest and abuse play themselves out in the fates of Byron’s daughters, we see their lives assuming the shape of Greek tragedy. In the meeting of the two women and the consequences of their battle, Crane shows us the Romantic Age in its terrible collision with the new world of the Victorians. The Kindness of Sisters establishes Crane as a biographer of formidable gifts....

Title : The Kindness of Sisters: Annabella Milbanke and the Destruction of the Byrons
Author :
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ISBN : 9780375406485
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Kindness of Sisters: Annabella Milbanke and the Destruction of the Byrons Reviews

  • Leslie Graff
    2019-05-21 19:24

    This was an odd yet intriguing historical account of Byron’s marriage and his supposed relationship with his half-sister, but more than focusing on each woman’s relationship to Byron, this focused on their relationship to each other as foils of each other. Annabella was to save him from himself by bringing in good English respectability while Augusta represented his corruption with all that is taboo and possibly his own love for himself above all others. I think what was odd for me was that I couldn’t decide how “academic” this book was. In part, it reads like it’s for a reader with already a significant knowledge of Byron’s biography, yet the imagined dialogue between the two women calls into question the supposed academic “truth” factor of the work. I found the dialogue interesting and engaging, but at the end I wasn’t sure if it was really necessary. It set up the remainder of the story, I suppose, but couldn’t that have been done in a different way if this was going to be an academic study? Likewise, if this was going to be for the general reader, I feel like it needed more about why Byron held the public imagination in the way the author claims. Yes, he was a celebrity, but this book takes it for granted that we still know why, something that even as a Victorian lit scholar, I couldn’t say that I fully understand.From the opening scene in the vault, it just felt like there was a call here to the mysterious and the illicit yet not enough time spent either explaining it or giving in to the mystery. It was like I wanted this to be a book that it wasn’t – either the academic account that was easy to follow or the exploration and even celebration of Byron’s scandal. If this is supposed to be a full exploration of Annabella, why so much attention paid to Byron? Ultimately, I’m just not sure she was presented as interesting enough to warrant a biography of this nature. The author claims that she’s this fascinating figure, yet at the end, I wasn’t all that fascinated. Overall, this held my interest but I can’t say that I care to learn more about these figures which is a marker for me of a good historical account. Perhaps a Romanticist might have something else to say, but for me, just not compelling enough.

  • Penny
    2019-05-05 00:17

    4.5It's funny, sometimes the book you most look forward to reading can be a real disappointment. Whereas the one you don't have high expectations of can turn out to be an absolute corker. I loved this - one of the best books I've read so far this year.Although it could be read as a stand alone book depicting the disastrous (understatement!) marriage of Byron to Annabelle Milbanke and its subsequent fallout, it's probably best enjoyed if you have some knowledge of the characters involved, and the scandal that is still talked about and picked over 200 years on.There's a section of the book, about a quarter way in, which swings into unusual territory with a fictionalised account (written like a play) of a meeting in later life between Lady Byron and Augusta Leigh the half sister that Byron has an incestuous relationship with. Wasn't sure if this would work but it does.Lady Byron really comes across as a deeply unlikeable character who spent 40 years perched firmly on the moral high ground, puffed so full of self justification that she poisoned her family and just about everyone else who came close to her.These events all happened so long ago (Byron has been dead nearly 200 years) so it comes as a surprise to see that one of the illustrations is a pin sharp photograph of Lady Byron in her 60's looking startlingly like Clarissa Dickson Wright, but suitably miserable and hatchet faced.David Crane is a wonderful writer. Earlier this year I'd loved his more recent Empires of the Dead, a moving book on the creation of the WW1 war grave cemeteries in Northern Europe. Looking forward to reading more by him.

  • C.A.
    2019-05-15 01:35

    Not quite as original as it bills itself-- the second part of the book is a flight of fancy on the author's part, imagining the last conversation between Augusta Leigh and Lady Byron (Jude Morgan's Passion creates this relationship in a similiar fashion). But it's not bad, neverthless. Crane's clearly done his research, and the best part of the book is what he's dug up for Medora Leigh, the supposed daughter of Augusta and Byron. It's not the one book to read if you're interested in that scandal, but it's a good resource to use as a capstone.

  • Jeanne
    2019-05-17 22:21

    Truth be told I knew very little about Byron's personal life, but egads the man was a rebel rockstar of the 19th century and then some. There is a wonderful reimagined meeting between two of the central women in his life his wife and his half sister (who happened to be the mother of one of his children!). Now I want to go read a bio of Byron to fill in the details as this book focuses mostly on the women's relationship to him.

  • Mlg
    2019-04-23 19:42

    I knew the Byron family was disfunctional, but this book gave new detail to the number of ways. It focuses on Byron's half sister, Augusta and his wife Annabella. Both had daughters by him. The two girls both come to tragic ends, and the two women spend much of their lives hating each other because they both wanted Byron's love. I didn't know that Dickens based Miss Havisham on Annabella Byron.

  • Fay
    2019-05-09 23:40

    I agree with another reviewer who felt this would have worked better as a play or a screenplay. Still an interesting and quite readable interpretation of the story, even if I wouldn't necessarily accept it all as gospel truth.

  • Julie
    2019-05-12 03:33

    An interesting tale of the very warped relationship between Byron's wife & his half-sister/beloved. The wife does not come out very well, but neither do the others, to be honest. Worth the read if you're interested in the Romantics at all.

  • Lucy
    2019-04-27 01:25

    I actually learned as much from a novel I read on the same subject. No shame to David Crane, it's just that the other author was as well-researched and well-informed on this particular Byron menage, and via the historical fiction medium made it "pleasantlie rendered to tender Wits."

  • Ann Tonks
    2019-05-18 22:25

    I really wanted to like this - an examination of Byron, his wife and his sister with some imagined dialogue as well but the tone of the book was so anti-Annabella Milbanke that I couldn't bring myself to finish it. There was a bitterness in the writing that was unacceptable.

  • Yuliana
    2019-05-05 23:28

    Studied with him in London. Brilliant, hilarious man!