C.K. Stead

All posts tagged C.K. Stead

Letters and Journals – Katherine Mansfield, C.K. Stead (editor)

Published August 27, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

This book contains a selection of letters and extracts from Katherine Mansfield’s journal. The book looks at the “tremendous trifles of life” – the funny, ridiculous and exasperating – as well as inhabiting a dimension that transcends the everyday. “The Letters and Journals of Katherine Mansfield” demonstrates how the author comes to terms with the problems of living and dying, pain and fear, loneliness, with her own creativity, with friendship and above all with the enduring love she had for her husband.

What did I think?:

I didn’t really know too much about Katherine Mansfield until earlier this year, when I noticed that her name kept cropping up in books I was reading. Then a book group that I participate in picked the book Mansfield by C.K. Stead, which is a fictionalised account of Katherine’s life, to read one month. I wasn’t entirely sure about that book (please see my post HERE), but it is only since reading the Letters and Journals, that a few pieces have slotted into place. Katherine Mansfield was originally from New Zealand, but spent a lot of her time in England and France, where she felt that she completed all of her best writing. She became famous mainly for her short stories, but also for her friendships with other literary persons such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, the latter being responsible for publishing some of her work. She contracted tuberculosis, which plagued her and left her bed-ridden at times, and led to her death at the untimely age of 34.

Unfortunately, I cannot really comment on Mansfield’s short fiction, haven’t not read any of it at the moment, but I plan to change this very soon. From her letters to her second husband Murry, and her journal entries, she comes across as a bright, vivacious, and entertaining person, with a beautifully descriptive way with language, even in her own private words. I particularly love the poem she wrote about her beloved brother, Leslie “Chummie” Beauchamp after he was killed in the war, fighting in France. The ending lines are particularly poignant:

By the remembered stream my brother stands
Waiting for me with berries in his hands…
“These are my body. Sister, take and eat.”

I think Katherine was an incredibly complex yet interesting person on the whole. She was clearly passionate about the people she loved, but appeared to be slightly flighty, and could switch loyalties as she chose. She separated from Murry a few times, although he certainly was the love of her life, and had some brief affairs which she seemed to plunge into feet first. I loved reading about her friendship with D.H. Lawrence, who used Katherine as his inspiration for Gudrun in his novel Women In Love, his fiery personality and tempestuous partnership with his wife was fascinating to read about. Although I did enjoy the writings of Katherine Mansfield, I probably wouldn’t read this book again, in parts it was fairly disjointed and difficult to take in, although I appreciate that sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to place letters in exact sequence of events! I will definitely try and slot in some of her work, as she seems to have captured my interest.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Mansfield – C.K. Stead

Published June 14, 2013 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

One of the Bloomsbury set, Katherine Mansfield’s relationship with John Middleton Murry and her struggle to write the “new kind of fiction” of the time is the subject of this novel, an appealing portrait of a writer and her celebrated circle.

What did I think?:

I knew very little about Katherine Mansfield, a New Zealand born writer who is said to have defined the short story, before starting this novel. Now I have finished, it has left me feeling a bit more knowledgeable, but not fully satisfied. From what I can gather, the main fascination people have with her life is her on-off relationship with John/Jack Murry, and the way she left most men (and even some women) spellbound after meeting and having a conversation with her. She moved in very literary circles – counting D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley as close friends, and it was interesting to get a small snapshot of their lives as well as Katherine’s. I was especially intrigued by Lawrence, and his fiery “love-hate” relationship with his wife. I never had him down as a wife beater you know?!

This novel is set over a three year period during the First World War which led to her beloved brother Leslie being killed. It seems to have been a constant prey upon Katherine’s mind, especially after his death and some of the descriptions of the country at war by the author are fascinating. We also hear of Katherine’s struggles with writing, dreaming of being able to write something that would blow people away – “a new kind of fiction,” as she calls it. I also enjoyed the fact that we can see her story from other individual perspectives, even if everybody seemed to be madly in love with her, like her lover Murry and D.H. Lawrence’s long-suffering wife. From this novel, it came across as if Katherine got slightly bored with men once the initial romantic element had dissipated, and didn’t seem to know her hearts own desire. Poor Jack, I felt quite sorry for him at times when Katherine’s feelings for him waxed and waned. I look forward to reading more about Katherine Mansfield and satisfying my curiosity on this matter and shall probably move onto her letters and journals next. To be continued!

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

WWW Wednesday #6

Published June 12, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

WWW Wednesday time! Thanks to MizB for hosting at Should Be Reading.

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..

•What are you currently reading?

•What did you recently finish reading?

•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?


I’m about halfway through this novel about the life of the New Zealand born author Katherine Mansfield. I know very little about her so its a nice little introduction.

What did you recently finish reading?


A decent psychological thriller that got a lot better halfway through, I recently published my joint review with my sister Chrissi HERE

What do you think you’ll read next?


I am really excited about this one! Recommended to me by my sister, I managed to get a copy from NetGalley, and can’t wait to start it.

Please feel free to leave your WWW Wednesday, and I’ll pop over and see what you’re reading this week. Happy Reading Everyone!