THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF WILDE

EMER O’SUL­LI­VAN (ALLEN & UN­WIN, $59.99)

North & South - - Review -

We read a lot about Os­car: witty, flam­boy­ant, reck­less and doomed. But about his par­ents, Sir Wil­liam and Lady Jane Wilde? And brother Wil­lie? Not so much. In The Fall of the House of Wilde, how­ever, Ir­ish-born writer Emer O’sul­li­van shines a high-beam on surely one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing An­glo-ir­ish fam­i­lies of the Vic­to­rian era. Think un­con­ven­tional in­tel­lec­tu­als full of wit and flam­boy­ance and you get a pic­ture of how Os­car “hap­pened”. “Cre­at­ing a sen­sa­tion” was Lady Wilde’s mantra. So she did. And so did he. The ap­ple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or does it? Wil­lie, the writer, be­came a reck­less wastrel fond of good tai­lors and tarts. And Lady Wilde? Des­ti­tute! Os­car? Gadding about with Lord Al­fred Dou­glas! What could pos­si­bly go right? Noth­ing! We know the rest. A tragedy bril­liantly told.

JU­DITH BARAGWANATH

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