Book summary: Search for a Soul


An English novelist reviews her childhood and youth, in autobiography. Daughter of a els who shifts from she sees as strangely detached from his children, linked to his wife by bonds of worship, blind to her selfish pandering of her nervous disorders. The children, too, had a not quite normal sense of commitment, undefined antagonisms and jealousies, hatred and resentment. The picture of a Victorian upbringing has its contradictions in the hostility of the mother to her social responsibilities as a clergyman's wife- a strange note in a Victorian household. The shift to America- a brief turbulent period, with taste of companionship in an American school -- then back again to England. Ground here for Phyllis Bottome's later absorption in abnormal psychology, neurasthenia, and the like. Ground too for the imaginative flights outside the boundaries, the strictures of her growing years. Very English -- with much that will seem strange to American readers.

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