Pentimento Book reviews


Author(s): Lillian HellmanDownload  


In this widely praised follow-up to her National Book Award-winning first volume of memoirs, An Unfinished Woman, the legendary playwright Lillian Hellman looks back at some of the people who, wittingly or unwittingly, exerted profound influence on her development as a woman and a writer. The portraits include Hellman’s recollection of a lifelong friendship that began in childhood, reminiscences that formed the basis of the Academy Award-winning film Julia.

Some Reviews: 95 in

Ginger Stephens

Ginger Stephens rated it     

This was the second book that I read by Lillian Hellman and I think it is my favorite. It is one of the few memoirs where I actually hear the author’s voice as she relates her memories of the people from her younger days. I did not get that sense in the other book that I read, An Unfinished Woman. The only memory remaining from that book is that it seemed to be about spending time at literary/theatre festivals in the Soviet Union and drinking a lot.

My desire to read Pentimento was initially inspired by the move Julia, with Jane Fonda playing Lillian and Vanessa Redgrave as Julia. I was surprised that the movie followed Julia’s story very closely, but there was not a lot of additional information about Julia nor any indication that her daughter had ever been located.

I was most amazed at Hellman’s openness about her own faults as she had grown to know herself. As she remembered the people whose stories make up this book, she related how her own personality quirks and temper affected her relationship with them. I found this to be the most interesting part of the book. I hope I am able to take the time to develop that sort of self-knowledge and acceptance of fate that only time brings.


Karen rated it      

I read this soon after it was published and did a paper on it as a High School student. My older sister imagined herself as a future Lillian Hellman and approved of my reading it. I, however, was drawn to it by the title which was a term I recognized from my studies in Art History.

There is an underlying image in this book. It is that of Lillian herself as each evanescent life blends with hers.

Things may be hinted at or revealed but the master work may be what she can cause us to discover under scrutiny of ourselves.


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