Street-Sauntering Women

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SQUARE HAUNTING
Five Writers in London Between the Wars
by Francesca Wade
Tim Duggan Books. 420 pages, $28.99

 

IN MY THIRTIES, I did a great deal of traveling, especially to ancient Neolithic archeological ruins in Europe and Israel. During these various excursions, I noticed that a certain feeling would come over me at many of the sites. At first, I thought that these experiences were cases of déjà vu. However, I came to realize that the given location had triggered in me certain symbolic, mythic, historic, or cultural associations as well as a sense of those who had lived and died there.

            Francesca Wade has conjured a similar “sense of place” in Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between The Wars. She derived the book’s title from a 1929 diary entry by Virginia Woolf: “I like this London life in early summer—the street sauntering & square haunting.” Before even starting the book, I needed to understand this quotation, particularly the meaning of the word “haunting.” Going deeper into my personal associations with the word, I found myself thinking about haunting memories, those that lie beneath the surface; my aforementioned travels that were filled with “hauntings” waiting to be rediscovered.

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