Tom Crewe writes:
‘I’m astonished by it,’ Phyllis Rose said in a recent interview about Parallel Lives, her study of five Victorian marriages, first published in 1983 and now reissued (Daunt, £10.99). ‘It’s miraculous that this girl knew so much.’ In her prologue about love and marriage, probably the best thing in the book, Rose’s wisdom glints like shards of glass. ‘Does that girl strike you as having been unnervingly wise?’ Rachel Cooke asked Rose. ‘Unnerving,’ Rose agreed, ‘is a good word for it.’ How else to describe the certainty, the cutting elegance, of these formulations?