Subtitled Mrs Orwell’s Invisible Life, this is both a biography, a memoir, and a fictional expose of George Orwell’s wife Eileen. Funder read all the biographies on George Orwell before embarking on her research, but the catalyst was the discovery in 2005, of six letters by Eileen to her friend Norah Myles.
As a successful writer with three children, Anna Funder is personally aware that although she has a very supportive husband, as a woman, she inevitably bears the lion’s share of parenting and household duties. Her sympathies (and rage) are therefore with Orwell’s wife, who she sets out to prove, was overworked, underappreciated, and betrayed by the famous writer.
Initially, I felt that Funder was overplaying the patriarchy card, but as I progressed, I found the book quite compulsive, well researched, and a brilliant portrayal of a fascinating and admiral woman of the era.