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Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya Parmar

Hardcover, 348 pages, Random House Inc, List Price: $26 |

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Vanessa and Her Sister
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Priya Parmar

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NPR Summary

Set in early 1900s London, this historical novel examines the adult lives of sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.

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NPR stories about Vanessa and Her Sister

Unlike her sister, Vanessa Bell, seen here circa 1910, didn't keep a journal. "Her voice is largely unheard and I was really interested in that," Priya Parmar says. George C. Beresford/Getty Images hide caption

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George C. Beresford/Getty Images

Novel Gives Voice To Virginia Woolf's Overshadowed Sister

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: Vanessa And Her Sister

Virginia Woolf
Asheham House
Rodmell
Sussex

2 December 1912--Asheham

Dearest Nessa,

She arrived in an inauspicious brown crate. Your painting is smaller and rougher than I expected. Mrs. Virginia Woolf in a Deckchair--what a marvelously blunt title. Without it, I am not sure anyone would know it is me given the empty face but Leonard says he recognized the set of the shoulders right away.

Where shall I put your beautiful canvas? Leonard thinks the upstairs hallway. Would you choose when you come down next week? You know how I like it when you decide these things. Youare still coming down?

There is an unrushed calm about your Mrs. Woolf. Is this how you see me now, dearest? The woman in the painting looks whole and serene and loved. Am I still loveable? Or have I undone that now?

No, Nessa, it must not be. What happened cannot break us. It is impossible. Someday you will love me and forgive me. Someday we will begin again.

Always your
Virginia