In the summer of 1934, “a sickly, pathetic marmoset” called Mitz came into the care of Leonard Woolf. He nursed her back to health and from then on was rarely seen without her on his shoulder. A ubiquitous presence in Bloomsbury society, Mitz moved with Leonard and Virginia Woolf and their circle, developing special relationships with such associates as T. S. Eliot and Vita Sackville-West. She accompanied the Woolfs on their travels and even played an important role in helping them to escape a close call with Nazis in Germany.
Using letters, diaries, and memoirs, Nunez reconstructs Mitz’s life against the background of Bloomsbury in its twilight years. Tender, affectionate, and humorous, Mitz provides an intimate portrait of a most uncommon household, a glimpse of what Virginia Woolf once described as “the private side of life—the play side,” represented by one’s pets.
©1998 Sigrid Nunez (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A limpidly written story…In short, glistening sentences that refract the larger world, Ms. Nunez describes the appealingly eccentric, fiercely intelligent Woolfs during a darkening time when Mitz was a tiny focus of their lives.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Offers a slice of pure whimsy.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Reader McCaddon is remarkably clear. She cleverly conveys some of the individual characters with changes in tone and accent.” (Kliatt)
Must say that it helps to know a bit about Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group, but it's certainly not essential (perhaps a nice compromise would be to listen to The Hours or rent the movie of that book first). Mitz is certainly more light hearted than The Hours and in that way, serves as a great complement to it. But it still is plenty rich in atmosphere and relationship development. And there are quite a few laugh aloud moments. I don't normally associate Virginia Woolf with chuckles, but didn't resist it for a minute. The reading is spot on, I could find nothing to fault. And when it was done, I felt sorry for that -- the best measure of enjoying a book that I know. (It also got me to dig out a few old paperbacks of Woolf's works and enjoy them again, too.)
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