Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsBook

On Solid Ground

June 25, 1995

Apropos of the May 21 review of Alexandra Lapierre's "Fanny Stevenson" about Robert Louis Stevenson's wife:

The reviewer writes: "Instead of scholarly research and perceptive analysis what we get . . . resembles a Harlequin romance." I can't challenge the latter element. I lack whatever the reviewer's familiarity with that genre may be. As to "scholarly research," however, 40-odd years of specializing in Stevensoniana qualify me to object to any implication that the research behind Lapierre's book is shaky or "scamped." Instead it contains, and duly identifies, a rich amount of previously unavailable material invaluable for acquaintance with Louis Stevenson and his consort. And much of the dialogue utilizes verbatim passages from the characters' diaries, letters and other sources. Last December Lapierre's Sorbonne-trained scholarship got her invited as lead speaker at Yale's 100th anniversary commemoration of Stevenson's death.

As to "perceptive analysis" of Fanny's relations with her daughter: In view of the tone of the reviewer's lead paragraphs about feminist biographies of famous men's wives, one should thank Lapierre for eschewing the conventional amateur shrinkery about that pair of sui generis personalities.

J.C. FURNAS, STANTON, N.J.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|