Dead River by Cyn Balog

By Cyn Balog

"My pals and that i are spending promenade weekend at a distant wooded cabin at the lifeless. The lifeless River. i assumed it was once going to be simply us.

I used to be wrong."

Nothing is what it sort of feels during this creepy paranormal mystery through Cyn Balog.

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As a key member of a group of late nineteenth-century intellectuals, nicknamed ‘the Souls’*, Violet talked about art and berated the philistinism of the Victorian age. She was also much admired for her own amateur gifts, with several of her busts and her silver-point and pencil portraits exhibited in London galleries. A reputation for being different, even mildly rebellious, had attached itself to her. While Violet deferred to the formal duties of a Duke’s wife, she clearly preferred intimate suppers to grand dinners and court events.

1 Yet over the following days she would be feted by artists and critics as a black pearl, an ebony Venus, a jazz age vamp with the soul of an African goddess. Postcards of ‘La Baker’ went on sale, as did a range of Josephine dolls. Her shiny black hair and coffee-coloured skin, the source of so much abuse back home, were harnessed to the marketing of French beauty products: hair pomade for the glossing of Eton crops; walnut oil for the faking of summer tans. Her hard, supple body was celebrated as an icon of contemporary style – reflecting the glossy streamlined aesthetic of art deco and the gamine flair of the French garçonne.

They were written about by the same novelists and journalists, photographed for the same publications. But biography is essentially about the colour and detail of individual lives and in writing this book I’ve been fortunate to profit from the groundwork of many other fine biographers. To their research and knowledge I owe a profound debt. In the matter of language, the 1920s was a world away from our own politically conscious era. Young women were girls, blacks were often niggers, female actors were actresses, and even though this usage can grate on modern ears, I’ve opted to retain a flavour of it, for the sake of period accuracy.

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