Gotham Diary:
And Westward Flows the Thames
23 November 2011

From Susan Hertog’s Dangerous Ambition, a dual biography of Rebecca West (née Cicely Fairfield, it turns out) and Dorothy Thompson:

The family took pleasure in ascending the terrace overlooking the valley above the Thames, which flowed westward toward Windsor.

(The terrace is in Richmond.) At other points in the same chapter, two buildings, one of them a “stately home,” are decribed as “Georgian colonial.” Neither of these points, the flow of the Thames or the architectural style of Uppark, is really integral to the telling of Hertog’s braided tales. That’s precisely why the editorial staff at Ballantine ought to have done its job, if there is an editorial staff at Ballantine. It is very hard for me to imagine how any educated man or woman could be capable of covering the lives of foreign correspondents such as West and Thompson intelligenttly without knowing, in the way that one knows that the sun rises in the east, which way the Thames flows. As for “Georgian colonial,” the term betrays a firghtful provinciality as well as a lack of interest in architecture. Note to Ballantine: The Thames flows east, from the direction of Windsor, and there are no “Georgian colonials” in England.

Other than that, the book is breezily readable.