Inventory of a Life Mislaid
From one of our most iconic writers, a luminous memoir of post-war childhood, adventure, loss, and the banks of the Nile.
Inventory of a Life Mislaid follows Marina Warner’s beautiful, penniless young mother Ilia as she leaves southern Italy in 1945 to travel alone to London. Her husband, an English colonel, is still away in the war in the East as she begins to learn how to be Mrs Esmond Warner, an Englishwoman.
With diamond rings on her fingers and bespoke brogues on her feet, Ilia steps fearlessly into the world of cricket and riding to hounds. But, without prospect of work in a bleak, war-ravaged England, Esmond remembers the glorious ease of Cairo during his periods of leave from the desert campaign and he decides to move there to start a bookshop, a branch of W. H. Smith’s. But growing resistance to foreign interests, especially British, erupts in the l952 uprising, and the Cairo Fire burns much of downtown, including the English bookshop.
From letters and journals read only after the couple ‘ s deaths, from photographs found coiled in a film cylinder, from gifts and love tokens, objects and mementoes, the author pieces together the reckonings and discoveries her parents made. Evocative and imaginative, at once historical and speculative, this luminous memoir powerfully resurrects the fraught union and unrequited hopes of Warner’s parents. Memory intertwines richly with myth, the river Lethe feeling as real as the Nile. Vivid recollections of Cairo swirl with ever-present dreams of a city where Warner’s parents, friends and associates are still restlessly wandering.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR INVENTORY OF A LIFE MISLAID 'Wonderful - a brave, inventive, touching distillation of memory and imagination, shimmering with images, sounds and scents, conjuring a clash of lives, worlds and words' Jenny Uglow 'As delicate as the lace her mother hemmed, as sharp as the facets of the diamond rings her mother lost, Marina Warner's Inventory of a Life Mislaid is a captivating re-creation of her childhood in a lost Cairo, so incomparably louche, sensuous and fragrant, and of her parents' improbable marriage' Ferdinand Mount 'An entrancing weave of memoir, history, autobiography and fiction, this adventurous book voyages through time and space to re-discover, re-imagine and reinvent a lost world. One of Marina Warner's most beautiful works' Michele Roberts 'Moving and original ... Warner's view of the past is always precise, at once generous and exacting. She has a gift for using objects to conjure up characters, feelings and atmospheres ... Poignant and exquisitely crafted, Inventory of a Life Mislaid is bound to become a classic' Catriona Seth 'Marina Warner's memoir is a poignant and imaginatively transgressive exploration of her parents' marriage, a war time love match between Southern Italy and upper class England and all the difficulties that entailed. It's full of evocative flash backs and cherished objects keenly remembered- at once a treasure house of family memories and a history of an epoch' Margaret Drabble
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