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A Genius in the Family by Piers du Pre
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A Genius in the Family (edition 1997)

by Piers du Pre

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151379,164 (3.76)3
Member:jennifferw
Title:A Genius in the Family
Authors:Piers du Pre
Info:Chatto and Windus (1997), Hardcover
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Hilary and Jackie by Hilary du Pré

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Hilary and Jackie by Hilary du Pre and Piers de Pre
No matter what else I think of Hilary and Jackie, I have to credit the authors with what appears to be utter honesty, or a ‘tell all’ memoir; I’m not sure which it is. On one level Hilary and Jackie strikes me as a lovely book about a family for whom music is absolutely everything, almost obsessively so. The ‘everything’, unfortunately, centers on the cellist in the family, Jackie. Two thirds of the way through I still was unsure whether I liked the book or the characters at all; mostly I felt frustration, anger, and disgust that the family allowed and condoned Jackie’s tyranny over the family, all in the name of her emotional health, and later multiple sclerosis of which she died at 42 years of age.
The family tale is told by brother, Piers, and older sister, Hilary. After Jackie’s death, the two declined offers from others to write Jackie’s biography. Instead, they chose to read through all written material collected over the years including letters, news articles, journals. Their goal was to create a portrait of the real Jackie, as her family knew her. I would surmise that they succeeded. Though I sometimes had difficulty following time segments as Hilary and Piers volleyed their remembrances, I thought the book interesting. Who am I to judge other dysfunctional families? ( )
  walkonmyearth | Apr 21, 2013 |
I finally got to this one and enjoyed it, but probably not as much as my husband who is a cello player. It is a fascinating story of genius and the toll it takes on a family - the original title was "A Genius in the Family." I felt the new title - "Hilary and Jackie: the true story of two sisters who shared a passion, a madness and a man" was designed by marketers who wanted to capitalize on one of the more sensational aspects of the sisters' relationship and didn't really reflect the book written by both the sister and the brother of Jackie du Pre. The writing was frank and a little plain, but appropriate for the voices of non-writers. ( )
  MarysGirl | Jun 8, 2010 |
Hilary and Jackie is a remembrance of Jackie du Pre a world class cellist through the eyes of her sister and brother.

Huilary and Jackie are born into a musical family; their mother won competitions and is now a teacher and her husband played joyfully by ear. Hilary and Jackie are also very talented, playing and performing from when they were very young. Hilary is talented but Jackie is a genius. This book draws in excruciating detail the toll of supporting that genius and the joy that the person Jackie (as opposed to the great cellist Jackie) brings to the family. Time, energy, love are given freely even when the cost to the giver is heavy. The toll that being a world class cellist from a young age takes on a shy fun loving but family oriented girl is also detailed as much as it could without Jackie's direct input.

This life and story are both heart-rendingly sad and full of joy but not at the same time. Could have...would have...should have...pop into the reader's mind but the truth is that as a life is lived we seldom have that separation to make those decisions. It is much easier to see, from outside and after the fact, where things may have been helped but without benefit of the conclusion we would be muddling along trying to help in whatever ways we could. I know that I could not have given all that Hilary gave for Jackie but I am not Hilary.

I have recommended this to every adult to whom I speak about books. I look forward to discussing it with whomever reads it.
  sara_k | Oct 5, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345432711, Paperback)

Jacqueline du Pré saw the outlines of her short, brilliant, and tragic life when she was still very young. The first time she heard a cello (she was 4 years old), she said, "Mummy, I want to make that sound." She got a cello for her 5th birthday and made her professional debut at age 16. She went on to become one of the century's most amazing musicians for 10 years. Then her career was ended by multiple sclerosis. She seems to have foreseen that crippling illness, which killed her at age 42 after years of slow deterioration. She was 9 years old when she confided in her sister, Hilary (who coauthored this biography with their brother, Piers), "Don't tell Mum, but... when I grow up, I won't be able to walk or move." Before she was stricken down, Jacqueline du Pré led a life of unusual richness and complexity. Here that life is examined by her siblings in loving but realistic terms, including the flaws and conflicts as well as the achievements.

The biography formed the basis for the 1998 film starring Emily Watson. It is a sad chronicle of the pitiless disease that twisted Jackie's personality and sanity as well as her body, but also a joyful book about music, the tenderness and rivalries of family life, and above all a singular, tormented, but buoyant personality. --Joe McLellan

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Since her death in 1987, du Pre's brother and sister have felt that her life story has never been fully told. This is their account of what happens when a prodigy is born into a family, who desires her sisters husband.

(summary from another edition)

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