A Favourite of the Gods, By Sybille Bedford

The Independent April 22, 2011 Emma Hagestadt

Throughout her long life, Sybille Bedford was drawn to the light of the Mediterranean, the "bleached bare spaces of Provence and the terraced Tuscan hills." Her 1963 novel, A Favourite of the Gods, is steeped in this landscape and the etiquette of pre-war aristocratic life. Constanza is the child of an American heiress and a Roman prince - "a Giorgione modified by a Gainsborough". Seemingly blessed in every way, her Italian childhood is irrevocably altered by the catastrophe of her parents' truncated marriage. Her own daughter's fate too will be shaped by the events of those years. Bedford watches as three generations of women complicate their own lives, and those of others around them. A Jamesian world artfully re-shaped by an unconventional female writer.