A beautiful actress of the 1920s faces painful decisions about her lovers and her future Star of the stage, Sunflower has everything but the attention she craves from her long-time—and married—lover, Lord Essington, a brilliant and intense man occupied with more intellectual thoughts. Eager for a more rewarding experience, Sunflower must decide whether another great man, the Australian Francis Pitt, will offer a more traditional relationship and happiness.
Written during West’s own psychoanalysis and never finished, Sunflower ponders topics of the power struggle between the sexes, and a woman’s freedom to determine her romantic destiny. Drawn heavily from West’s own relationships with H.G. Wells and Lord Beaverbrook, this roman à clef gives a glimpse of the author’s own struggle to find a satisfying relationship.
Dame Rebecca West, DBE (1892 – 1983) was an author, journalist, literary critic and travel writer. A prolific author in many genres, West was committed to feminist and liberal principles and was one of the foremost public intellectuals of the twentieth century. She met H.G. Wells in 1913, after her provocatively damning review of his novel Marriage prompted him to invite her to lunch. They fell in love, though Wells was married at the time, and their affair lasted ten years producing a son. In 1947 Time magazine called West, ‘indisputably the world’s number one woman writer’ and in 1954 Kenneth Tynan described her as, ‘the best journalist alive’. She was made CBE in 1949, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to British letters.
What did you love best about Sunflower?
I loved how the three main characters 'came to life' via the story-telling. While nothing much happened in terms of dramatic action during the story, the engaging character development kept me listening. I could not stop and listened to the whole thing relatively quickly. I was not familiar with the story nor the author before purchasing "Sunflower," but I would hand it to the performer for keeping me interested and listening!
Who was your favorite character and why?
I don't want to give anything away, but there was one of the less prominent main characters (one of the men) who I felt was a compelling character sketch. Despite the performer being a female, I did enjoy how this particular character was characterized - I found him to be very sympathetic and was 'rooting' for him throughout.
What does Lily Dorment bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
I seriously don't think I could have completed this book if I were just reading it, but Ms. Dorment kept the characters alive through the length of the book, which was no easy feat given the depth of the character development and the limited actual action. Her interpretation of the main female character and two main male characters was believable, engaging, enjoyable, and sympathetic, without being over-dramatized or over-interpreted. I'd never heard anything of her's before (and I'm a frequent Audible listener!) but I did really enjoy her performance and would absolutely purchase her next release (if one comes!).
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