Madame Proust: A Biography

Elisabeth Ladenson writes:

Madame Proust is among a growing number of biographies of writers’ female relations. Like Bloch-Dano’s previous biography of Emile Zola’s beleaguered wife, Madame Proust at once arises out of feminism and displays a peculiar relation to it, since the female subject is of interest chiefly in relation to the great man, and yet the demands of the genre require that she be depicted as interesting in her own right. And although Jeanne Weil Proust is interesting in her own right there are two problems with this highly readable biography. One is that the author takes liberties with history and fiction; this is a biography that ‘reads like a novel’, extrapolating from a variety of sources, including letters and Proust’s fiction.

(LRB 8 May 2008)