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"No family should have less than three children. If there is one genius among them, there should be two to support him." The life of Jacqueline du Pré is an enticing subject for biography. Child prodigy turned superstar cellist, du Pré came from a highly musical family, studied with the greatest musicians in the world, married the pianist Daniel Barenboim during Israel's "No family should have less than three children. If there is one genius among them, there should be two to support him." The life of Jacqueline du Pré is an enticing subject for biography. Child prodigy turned superstar cellist, du Pré came from a highly musical family, studied with the greatest musicians in the world, married the pianist Daniel Barenboim during Israel's Six Day War in 1967--and was struck down by multiple sclerosis in 1973, at the age of 28. From then on her deterioration was swift and merciless. In 1987 Du Pré eventually died, unable even to feed herself unaided, let alone play her beloved cello. Du Pré's closeness to her family--in particular her sister (and early musical rival) Hilary, and brother Piers--has been well-documented, but the publication of A Genius in the Family was a revelation. Among other things came the blithe disclosure that the moody, brilliant du Pré, during a difficult period in her life, regularly slept with Hilary's husband "Kiffer"--with Hilary's blessing. Controversy raged; were Hilary and Piers saints who sacrificed the limelight and their own wishes to placate this temperamental genius? Or was the book a not-so-subtle attempt to destroy the myth of the tragic, beautiful du Pré--and to avenge lives lived in her shadow? "These are our memories. This book is not a biography nor an account of Jackie's career.It is simply what happened. We offer the reader the story of our family, from within", write the authors in the preface to this memoir. Whatever the motives behind A Genius in the Family, it is a vivid account of the woman behind the icon, and an enthralling read. --Catherine Taylor


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"No family should have less than three children. If there is one genius among them, there should be two to support him." The life of Jacqueline du Pré is an enticing subject for biography. Child prodigy turned superstar cellist, du Pré came from a highly musical family, studied with the greatest musicians in the world, married the pianist Daniel Barenboim during Israel's "No family should have less than three children. If there is one genius among them, there should be two to support him." The life of Jacqueline du Pré is an enticing subject for biography. Child prodigy turned superstar cellist, du Pré came from a highly musical family, studied with the greatest musicians in the world, married the pianist Daniel Barenboim during Israel's Six Day War in 1967--and was struck down by multiple sclerosis in 1973, at the age of 28. From then on her deterioration was swift and merciless. In 1987 Du Pré eventually died, unable even to feed herself unaided, let alone play her beloved cello. Du Pré's closeness to her family--in particular her sister (and early musical rival) Hilary, and brother Piers--has been well-documented, but the publication of A Genius in the Family was a revelation. Among other things came the blithe disclosure that the moody, brilliant du Pré, during a difficult period in her life, regularly slept with Hilary's husband "Kiffer"--with Hilary's blessing. Controversy raged; were Hilary and Piers saints who sacrificed the limelight and their own wishes to placate this temperamental genius? Or was the book a not-so-subtle attempt to destroy the myth of the tragic, beautiful du Pré--and to avenge lives lived in her shadow? "These are our memories. This book is not a biography nor an account of Jackie's career.It is simply what happened. We offer the reader the story of our family, from within", write the authors in the preface to this memoir. Whatever the motives behind A Genius in the Family, it is a vivid account of the woman behind the icon, and an enthralling read. --Catherine Taylor

30 review for A Genius in the Family: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline Du Pre

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I picked this book up in a charity shop as a casual read, and by pure luck found it was well worth the pennies I paid for it. It's a book about Jacqueline de Pré, the famous cellist, and it is written by her brother and sister. Each of them writes a chapter or a few pages, and then the book switches over to the other one, ie brother/sister/brother/sister and so on. I found the changeover virtually seamless, and it worked surprisingly well. I liked it on three counts - firstly the way it describe I picked this book up in a charity shop as a casual read, and by pure luck found it was well worth the pennies I paid for it. It's a book about Jacqueline de Pré, the famous cellist, and it is written by her brother and sister. Each of them writes a chapter or a few pages, and then the book switches over to the other one, ie brother/sister/brother/sister and so on. I found the changeover virtually seamless, and it worked surprisingly well. I liked it on three counts - firstly the way it describes what it is like to be a sibling in a family where one of the children is a genius, secondly the way it describes the dynamics of the du Pré family generally, and thirdly the way it describes very honestly the tragedy of the disease Jacqueline suffered from - multiple sclerosis. In my family, my brother and sister and I are pretty equal in our achievements, and always have been. Not so the du Prés. Jacqueline soared above her brother and sister in talent and popularity, and her sister Hilary, also a musician, describes poignantly the distress of realising that her sister was hugely more successful and adored by their audiences than she was. It was not an easy thing for a young child to take on board. Also Jacqueline had an especially close relationship with her mother, and much of her mother's time was spent furthering Jacqueline's talents, and meeting the demands of her career. I thought in view of Hilary's position in the family, her love for her golden sister Jacqueline, and her attitude towards her, were in fact very generous. It was less of an issue for her brother Piers - probably because he was not a musician (and was determined to steer well clear of being one.) In spite of their differences, they were a close and supportive family, and this was a powerful and endearing thread throughout the book. The description of Jacqueline's illness touched me on a personal level. I am involved with caring for a family member with Alzheimer's. I have read a couple of books about this, but I identified more with the ravages of a destructive illness described in this book than I have with readings elsewhere. As a carer I find myself having weird experiences, and sometimes feeling frustrated and angry. I related to a lot to the enormous frustrations experienced by Jacqueline because of her illness, and also to what the du Pré family went through, trying to be supportive but sometimes finding themselves the focus for Jacqueline's rage. I found all of this reassuring. There is however one gaping hole in my reading of this book. I am not a cello fan, and I am not familiar with Jacqueline's work, plus few of the composers mentioned in the book are ones that I particularly enjoy. I somehow feel I gave the book a subversive reading! I was reading it for all the *wrong* reasons. No matter. I'm glad I read it. ----------------------------------------------------------- Since reading the book & writing this review I have heard so many negative comments about the authors, and their relationship with Jacqueline - comments particularly about Jacqueline's sister Hilary. Herewith an example of the sort of objections that can be found... http://www.theguardian.com/uk/1999/ja...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kricket

    i borrowed this book from my dad for my flight home. i grew up with jacqueline du pre playing the elgar cello concerto on our stereo but didn't know anything about her rather tragic life. i was also intrigued that my father, who normally reads extremely dry nonfiction about mozart, rare birds, or sailing vessels would pick up something that looked so steamy. the best word i can come up with to summarize "hilary and jackie" is bizarre. originally titled "a genius in the family," it documents the i borrowed this book from my dad for my flight home. i grew up with jacqueline du pre playing the elgar cello concerto on our stereo but didn't know anything about her rather tragic life. i was also intrigued that my father, who normally reads extremely dry nonfiction about mozart, rare birds, or sailing vessels would pick up something that looked so steamy. the best word i can come up with to summarize "hilary and jackie" is bizarre. originally titled "a genius in the family," it documents the life of du pre according to her older sister, hilary and younger brother, piers. it was repackaged for the film adaptation to include the tagline: "The True Story of Two Sisters Who Shared a Passion, a Madness and a Man" which isn't QUITE accurate. while they were certainly both nutty, it's not the same kind of nutty. the two juiciest things about the story are 1) the tragic early end of jackie's career due to multiple sclerosis and 2) the fact that she slept with hilary's husband and hilary claims to be ok with that. item number 2 was the part that made me do a double take. hilary wakes up in the middle of the night to find that jackie has crawled in bed with her and her husband, christopher "kiffer" finzi, and is groping him under the covers. later jackie & kiffer start making sexy times together. at this point jackie is an emotional mess, having problems with her own husband (daniel barenboim) so hilary...decides to just not do anything?! and kiffer is like "i'm doing this to help your sister, hil. i have to do this to help her." so hilary doesn't say anything to jackie and doesn't object to kif hopping in bed with jackie on a regular basis. jackie continues to live in their home and be BFFs with hilary. wait, what? according to hilary & kiffer's daughter, clare, hilary is totally delusional. clare claims that her dad was a serial adulterer who later had two kids with some other lady and hilary chose to believe that kif slept with jackie to be noble because she couldn't face the truth. this is the story i am more inclined to believe. another option is that hilary is INSANELY jealous of jackie but doesn't want to own up to it. she does admit to being jealous of jackie's musical talent when they were younger- hilary didn't get as far with her flute. and i noticed that almost all of the photos selected for the insert in the book are extremely unflattering to jackie. so that's a telling detail. toward the end of the memoir, piers finds jesus, which is kind of a hilarious little side note. it leads to an extremely ill jackie receiving an anonymous bible in the mail and becoming infuriated with piers. one thing to note is that reading this was a lot more interesting than some biographies which are over-the-top worshipful. it was sort of refreshing to see the darkness and problems in the life of such a celebrated musician.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janna

    I have given three stars because I love Jackie and couldn't put the book down, but so much of this seems odd to me. I hear a venom in her sister's writing that makes me think of trouble I had with my own sister. I wonder what Jackie would have to say? I have doubts about the validity of the story and the spirit in which it was written.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan Smith

    I found this book truly fascinating. I was a huge fan of the film Hilary and Jackie and I shared it with both my mom and my eldest sister (both musicians) and they both loved it (my sister usually doesn't like films I recommend to her). I tried to find the book that inspired it at the local library and was VERY disappointed to find that the city of Salt Lake does not consider it a worthy member of their collection. My sister ended up buying the paperback edition off of Alibris and we all ended u I found this book truly fascinating. I was a huge fan of the film Hilary and Jackie and I shared it with both my mom and my eldest sister (both musicians) and they both loved it (my sister usually doesn't like films I recommend to her). I tried to find the book that inspired it at the local library and was VERY disappointed to find that the city of Salt Lake does not consider it a worthy member of their collection. My sister ended up buying the paperback edition off of Alibris and we all ended up reading it. Artistically, it is NOT a 5 star book. It is writen in with two personal points of view; that of Hilary, Jackie's older sister and her younger brother, Piers. Hilary, also a gifted musician, details the highly intuitive musical training that the two girls received from their mother, also a very gifted musician, and each of the sister's subsequent battles with their music; Hilary's feelings of inadequacy that dogged her through her performance career and Jacqueline's love/hate relationship with her instrument and jealousy of her older sister's "normal" life as a wife and mother. This book is FILLED with drama. The brother's recollections were more round-about during his childhood years and really did not contribute much to the story. As he matured and married and Jacqueline's mental and physical health declined, his observations become much more pertinant. As a film theorist, I was amazed while reading the book to see how the film makers translated some very "interior" action into a visual language that is told onscreen without words. They kept the 2 storyteller format of the book but remarkably changed it to the two different viewpoints and experiences of the sisters instead. Hilary's story is told first and we make many judgments of Jackie based on Hilary's interpretation of her actions. Later, when the story shifts to Jackie's experience, we see a very differnt picture of what it is to be a musical prodigy and be thrust into fame in the adult world while still really only a child. There is even one scene that is reapeated almost word for word except for a couple of key words wihich completely alter the meaning from the first time we saw it. They did not make anything up, It all came from the book and that is amazing to me. Bottom line; this is a fascinating book that was later adapted into one of those rare films that is BETTER than the book. See the film and read the book and see if you agree with me! The book is 'A Genius in the Family' and the film is 'Hilary and Jackie'. PS- when neither actress won the academy awards they were nominated for, I gave up on watching or caring about the Oscars- it became so painfully obvious that the judges are not artists.

  5. 5 out of 5

    A.U.C.

    Even though I think that everybody can enjoy this book, I especially recommend it to musicians, such as myself. This is mostly because you will understand the music passages, and because you will find a special delight and understanding in the love that the protagonist had for her instrument that not even music-lovers would understand. Even though I play the trumpet and the guitar, it still is a little hard to understand. That is probably what I enjoyed the most about Hilary and Jackie. The music Even though I think that everybody can enjoy this book, I especially recommend it to musicians, such as myself. This is mostly because you will understand the music passages, and because you will find a special delight and understanding in the love that the protagonist had for her instrument that not even music-lovers would understand. Even though I play the trumpet and the guitar, it still is a little hard to understand. That is probably what I enjoyed the most about Hilary and Jackie. The music. I don't know how to describe it: the relationship that the characters in this story had with their music and their instruments was remarkable. I really don't know how to describe it. I will admit that I didn't enjoy the second half of the book as I did for the first: Not because it wasn't good, but because it was too much drama and too little music. I relly do think that the magic of this book is in the music. One of the things that really is shoking about this testimony is the amount of honesty poured into its pages; How Hilary and Piers du Pré managed to confess all of the scandals that are portrayed here is unbelievable. I wonder if they didn't care about their sister's image: They do blame it all on her illness but I still think its amazing. I would never have expected them to be that honest! It makes for an entertaining book, though. However, this was a terrible story, yet it didn't transmit much emotion. I don't know why. Maybe I should re-read it? I think that at the end I wasn't really concentrated so I didn't enjoy it or feel as much as I believe I should have: but this book is certainly of the kind that is worth the read. And I've been told that the movie is better! (Another thing about this is that I hated the title. Why on Earth did they change it? "A Genius in the Family" is a pretty good title but "Hilary and Jackie" couldn't be worse; mostly because this book was a joint collaboration between Piers and Hilary! This is the biggest reason I didn't give it five stars.) Oh, by the way: I'm not the kind that subtracts points from a book because of its content. I realize that some of the things about it were rather, umm, unusual.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeana

    A couple years ago, I stumbled upon a black-and-white video of Jacqueline du Pre playing Elgar's Cello Concerto and I couldn't get enough. It brought tears to my eyes, the emotion in the music was so real. This is the story of Jacqueline du Pre told by her older sister Hilary (a piano and flute player) and little brother Piers (a pilot). I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the childhood and how Jacqueline got her first cello and what she played and how she played. I was interested in how her sist A couple years ago, I stumbled upon a black-and-white video of Jacqueline du Pre playing Elgar's Cello Concerto and I couldn't get enough. It brought tears to my eyes, the emotion in the music was so real. This is the story of Jacqueline du Pre told by her older sister Hilary (a piano and flute player) and little brother Piers (a pilot). I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the childhood and how Jacqueline got her first cello and what she played and how she played. I was interested in how her sister Hilary dealt with her sister's gift, even though she herself had a gift. Even from the time she was a little girl, though, Jackie always got her way. Because she was special, her mother gave her everything. She lived her whole life not having to hear no from anyone, especially her family. She was selfish and spoiled and I swear I just wanted one of them to stand up to her, despite her gift. The most horrifying part of her life, though, is after she gets depressed and goes to live with Hilary and Kiffer and somehow ends up taking Hilary's husband. It was all so odd and just not okay. I don't care if they blame the MS for her irrational behavior; that was just too much. I had a hard time feeling bad for Jacqueline as she grew increasingly ill. I couldn't get over how selfish she was and how everyone tried to make her happy but she did so little to return the love. One of the most heartbreaking for me to read about was the way she treated her mother--for months and months, she wouldn't even talk to her. And there never was a reason why. And after all that her mother had done for her as a child and as an adult (don't get me started on laundering her clothes into her thirties and across continents!). Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll be able to appreciate du Pre's Elgar like I used to. I guess sometimes it's better not to know.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Primrosebarks

    “As Jackie’s talent became more evident, the balance of our family life altered and we felt compelled to nurture both her and her colossal gift. Following Mum’s lead, we all supported Jackie and watched as she shone in the spotlight. She became the centre of our attention and was automatically and without question put first.” (p.400) This paragraph is a great summary of this book. Was it healthy? Did the other children and husband suffer from being ignored? Hilary and Piers du Pre offer a frank, “As Jackie’s talent became more evident, the balance of our family life altered and we felt compelled to nurture both her and her colossal gift. Following Mum’s lead, we all supported Jackie and watched as she shone in the spotlight. She became the centre of our attention and was automatically and without question put first.” (p.400) This paragraph is a great summary of this book. Was it healthy? Did the other children and husband suffer from being ignored? Hilary and Piers du Pre offer a frank, heartfelt description of a loving family life, and offer a glimpse of the enigmatic, awkward, engaging brilliance that was Jacqueline du Pre. Yes, Jackie’s mother’s obsession with her daughter hurt her husband and other two children. Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvPza... to understand why. MS diagnosed in young people carry a 40-50% chance of accompanying dementia, often characterized by an inability to control emotions. It is likely that Jackie suffered from this, and her kind-hearted sister and her husband tried to “help” her---which ultimately failed to do any good at all. Loved ones want to help so badly, to the point of sacrificing family relationships and even one’s own safety. I get it. For those who don’t, I hope you’ll never have to undergo the hell of watching a loved one suffer like this. I loved the first half of this book. The descriptions of family life, music, and this brilliant artist were engaging and eloquent. I cried throughout the last half. While “Jackie and Hilary” the movie vilified Mr. Barenboim, Hilary Finzi (nee Du Pre) was brilliant in expressing her understanding of what he had to endure, and how he was an unfailing support during Jackie’s horrific last years. This book is a loving tribute to an amazing artist and a beloved family member, whose life was cut short by a devastating disease. I loved it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    As a former professional musician, I greatly enjoyed this book as an insight into the life of a musician who was far greater than 99.9% of all others. I have heard musicians who are so gifted that they transcend the petty jealousies that can arise between musicians in this fiercely competitive field, instead uniting them in admiration; Jacqueline du Pré was most certainly one of these (although I am not sure that her sister Hilary felt this way). That's one side of it; in other respects, the boo As a former professional musician, I greatly enjoyed this book as an insight into the life of a musician who was far greater than 99.9% of all others. I have heard musicians who are so gifted that they transcend the petty jealousies that can arise between musicians in this fiercely competitive field, instead uniting them in admiration; Jacqueline du Pré was most certainly one of these (although I am not sure that her sister Hilary felt this way). That's one side of it; in other respects, the book was quite an uncomfortable read. It gave a very intimate insight into a family that was unusual by any standards, a family that is held up as a kind of ideal but at the same time appears to be quite dysfunctional in many respects. Parts of it, (view spoiler)[for example the assertion that Hilary permitted Jackie to sleep with her husband as a kind of therapy (hide spoiler)] were downright bizarre. Some people, including Hilary's own daughter Clare, have asserted that the authors' take on what happened does not reflect the truth; for my part, I am inclined to think that although the authors would not deliberately be untruthful, their perspective is extremely skewed. Ultimately, though, we will never know for sure.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kristopher

    A wonderful biography of the greatest cellist that lived as told by her brother and sister. Written in a conversational narrative style. Does require some background in the music world, and you will soon be searching for the CDs of the music mentioned, particularly the Elgar Cello Sonatas.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pauline Butcher Bird

    Jacqueline's De Pre's tragic diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when she was 28 years old brought to an end her glittering career as a world-renowned cellist but this event is overshadowed by her affair with her brother-in-law, Kiffer and her sister, Hilary's tolerance of the two lovers escaping together for two weeks to satisfy Jacqueline's sexual needs while Hilary is left at home with the children. Full marks to Hilary for the courage to reveal this family drama, something that many might have h Jacqueline's De Pre's tragic diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when she was 28 years old brought to an end her glittering career as a world-renowned cellist but this event is overshadowed by her affair with her brother-in-law, Kiffer and her sister, Hilary's tolerance of the two lovers escaping together for two weeks to satisfy Jacqueline's sexual needs while Hilary is left at home with the children. Full marks to Hilary for the courage to reveal this family drama, something that many might have hidden from the public gaze.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    As much as this book recounts the life of Jackqueline Du Pre, it also details the family system that nurtured both the woman and her talent so that her music could be shared with the world. At times, humorous, at times tragic, and at times overwhelming in its honesty, Jackie's siblings invite us to become temporary members of a loving family whose members were willing to make hard sacrifices to support the "Genius in the Family."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Francisco

    I started the book admiring Jacqueline, and ended it pitying her. Truly, there is a cost to everything. We mortals are more blessed than we imagine.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rudy Seifert

    A 2 star book about a 4 star subject.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Good.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Edith

    Jacqueline du Pre- born in 1945, English, cello prodigy and genius, professional debut at age 16, played for Pablo Casals, studied in Russia with Rostropovich, married to world-renowned pianist Daniel Barenboim, playing at her peak in her early 20’s and performing in the highest venues the world over, muscular sclerosis diagnosed at age 28, in a wheel chair 18 months later, and dead at age 42. First, I read this book and then watched the movie. HATED the movie. Do not bother with it- in no way d Jacqueline du Pre- born in 1945, English, cello prodigy and genius, professional debut at age 16, played for Pablo Casals, studied in Russia with Rostropovich, married to world-renowned pianist Daniel Barenboim, playing at her peak in her early 20’s and performing in the highest venues the world over, muscular sclerosis diagnosed at age 28, in a wheel chair 18 months later, and dead at age 42. First, I read this book and then watched the movie. HATED the movie. Do not bother with it- in no way does it do justice to the book. If I hadn’t read the book, I would not have had a clue as to what was happening and it would not have made sense. Second, what a story and what oddness there was in it! Jacqueline du Pre was a natural genius on the cello- absolutely no doubt about that, but this genius came in the form of a rather large, sometimes clumsy, lively, English country girl who had a natural bent toward silliness and frequently, crassness, along with a demanding personality. She seemed to have two sides...when she sat down with the cello, she BECAME the music and you could swear she had dropped straight from heaven from the hand of God. But there was another much darker side which plagued her and the people surrounding her. Genius is always hard to reckon with for the “normal” folks who surround them. But I maintain that even genius needs to submit to certain limitations in keeping with societal norms, and this extends to not expecting/taking/requesting your sister’s husband for carnal purposes because you are having a breakdown and are feeling excessively needy and your own husband is not fitting the bill. And doing this right under your sister’s nose and ostensibly, with her consent. What?? This is some tremendously odd stuff and it’s hard to understand this part of the story. Mind you, these two sisters had a deep and unusually close relationship from early on, although over the years, they spent a lot of time apart because Jackie was off performing all over the world with her musician husband and Hilary married a musician, made a stable home, had four children, and raised dairy cows, goats, sheep, & chickens and tended a self-sufficient garden as well. So it was interesting to read this book as a “sister story” on one level. I was also stuck hard by the amazing mother of these two daughters, Iris Greep. She went through years as a maligned “pushy” mother when Jackie was attacked by muscular sclerosis, but she appeared to me to be the most supportive mother ever (according to her daughter’s rendition of her in the book, that is) and a HUGE factor behind Jackie’s success as a musician. She was one remarkable woman. The music she composed and hand wrote, with illustrations, to teach little 5-year-old Jackie, and put by her bedside where she would find it first thing in the morning and race downstairs to learn a new song....wow! I was fascinated by this story even though it was more a retelling of events and not so much a delving into the “whys” of certain behaviors. I am still very curious about the “whys” and think an insightful psychologist would have a heyday with this family. Finally, I have fallen in love with Jacqueline’s signature piece- the Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor and invite you to have a listen to a small piece of a documentary of her life which finishes with the exquisite Elgar Concerto- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnt46x...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anna Gaffey

    Wow. This is definitely an intimate biography. Hilary and Piers Du Pre describe their sister's life as they remember it: a mix of music and personal so detailed that it has been called exploitative and insulting. (I did feel a bit voyeuristic while reading in the airport! But then, I was crying openly by the end, and that was more embarrassing for me.) This is a biography of Jacqueline Du Pre, the English cellist. Told from her siblings' perspectives, Jackie is a child prodigy who grows up to ear Wow. This is definitely an intimate biography. Hilary and Piers Du Pre describe their sister's life as they remember it: a mix of music and personal so detailed that it has been called exploitative and insulting. (I did feel a bit voyeuristic while reading in the airport! But then, I was crying openly by the end, and that was more embarrassing for me.) This is a biography of Jacqueline Du Pre, the English cellist. Told from her siblings' perspectives, Jackie is a child prodigy who grows up to earn great acclaim in the musical arena. The book showcases her playing, and also her struggles with depression, relationships and finally, her fatal battle with multiple sclerosis. The main "scandal" of the book is Jackie's agreement with her sister Hilary (also a celebrated musician) and Hilary's husband Christopher, or "Kiffer." It is unclear whether "Kiffer" was truly interested in helping his sister-in-law or was taking advantage of her depression, but the affair between them was with Hilary's consent. Her contributions to the book are more emotional than Piers', as she seems to have been closer to Jackie. Piers' excerpts I found to be quite self-centered and more exploratory of his own life, rather than Jackie's. Late in the book he is converted to Christianity (from...Christianity? I wasn't sure, but I thought it was a conversion from non-practicing Anglican to Born-Again, as Americans know the phrase) and details how it affected his relationship with Jackie. In his writing/memories, Piers comes across as lost in the swirl of accolades around his sisters and their musical abilities. Behavior of a Scandalous Nature and Possible Sibling Jealousy aside, this is a very involving read. Jackie is a doomed genius. Her struggles to continue after her MS diagnosis are as heartbreaking as her earlier mental and relationship problems. It was a hard book to finish. If you've listened to any Jacqueline Du Pre recordings, I would recommend reading this. Then again, maybe I wouldn't.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I saw the movie, Hilary and Jackie, and now have read the book. It was in the bed and breakfast we stayed in when we visited Becca and Luca in Brooklyn and I'd forgotten to bring something to read. Becca found it. I think the book and movie go together very well. Jackie du Pre, a tremendously talented concert cellist, was married to the conductor Daniel B . . . can't spell his name. Shortly after her career had taken off she got MS and was not able to play. She died in her late 40s. The book is w I saw the movie, Hilary and Jackie, and now have read the book. It was in the bed and breakfast we stayed in when we visited Becca and Luca in Brooklyn and I'd forgotten to bring something to read. Becca found it. I think the book and movie go together very well. Jackie du Pre, a tremendously talented concert cellist, was married to the conductor Daniel B . . . can't spell his name. Shortly after her career had taken off she got MS and was not able to play. She died in her late 40s. The book is written by her older sister, Hilary (a concert flautist), and younger brother, Piers (a BOAC pilot). All three were/are very talented, but Jackie was the Genius in the Family (the former title of the book). One of the really bizarre things that took place happened toward the end of Jackie's career and at the apparent beginning of MS. Jackie had an affair with Hilary's husband, with Hilary's blessings. The book helps explain the dynamics of the triangle. The story is also a bit of a detective story. Hilary and Piers write this memoir/biography then go back and try to trace the beginnings of Jackie's MS. At the time it seemed to strike very quickly. In retrospect, she probably had intermittent symptoms for some time --- hence her need of comfort from Hilary's husband, hence her emotional ups and down with her own husband.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Courtenay

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the movie, Hilary and Jackie, and wanted to enjoy their life story, I just can't get past this "sleeping with her sister's husband". Everyone walked eggshells around "the genius". She was an artist, a talent, maybe even a genius, but did her happiness trump everyone else's simply because she was a gifted cellist? It led to a sense of entitlement that made me dislike Jackie immensely, and look poorly on Hilary for pandering to her tantrums. These are/were real I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the movie, Hilary and Jackie, and wanted to enjoy their life story, I just can't get past this "sleeping with her sister's husband". Everyone walked eggshells around "the genius". She was an artist, a talent, maybe even a genius, but did her happiness trump everyone else's simply because she was a gifted cellist? It led to a sense of entitlement that made me dislike Jackie immensely, and look poorly on Hilary for pandering to her tantrums. These are/were real people who maybe didn't know how to handle mental illness....but common sense should draw the line at letting your husband and sister have an affair. The rest of the book was interesting enough, but overall i really couldn't get past their odd behavior.

  19. 4 out of 5

    William

    Beyond enjoying the tragic story of this gifted musician, I was captured by the honesty and memory of the authors: her siblings. I used to travel widely, in the age before smart phones. I always took a handful of photographs to share with those I would meet. Invariably their questions drifted from the people in the foreground of the photos - my wife and children - to the background. "What type of tree is this?" "What is this small building?" "Does everyone have a dog?" "What are you eating?" In o Beyond enjoying the tragic story of this gifted musician, I was captured by the honesty and memory of the authors: her siblings. I used to travel widely, in the age before smart phones. I always took a handful of photographs to share with those I would meet. Invariably their questions drifted from the people in the foreground of the photos - my wife and children - to the background. "What type of tree is this?" "What is this small building?" "Does everyone have a dog?" "What are you eating?" In other words, the details other than the narrative are often what fascinates. So it was with this book, as you follow the family life and habits of the Du Pre family. Recommended to me by a conductor, it speaks to professional musicians and we laymen alike!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Korynn

    Saw the movie, now read the book! Yes, it's as simple as that. In this case, meet the brother! This is a memoir told from both the sister and brother of Jackie Du Pre the famous cellist. It confirms that all the Du Pre's were amazing individuals in their own rights, and how all of the family sacrificed to help support Jackie. Her sister reveals a real shocker, that her husband slept with Jackie with her knowledge, which is pretty rife with family turmoil. Her brother paints a portrait of a woman Saw the movie, now read the book! Yes, it's as simple as that. In this case, meet the brother! This is a memoir told from both the sister and brother of Jackie Du Pre the famous cellist. It confirms that all the Du Pre's were amazing individuals in their own rights, and how all of the family sacrificed to help support Jackie. Her sister reveals a real shocker, that her husband slept with Jackie with her knowledge, which is pretty rife with family turmoil. Her brother paints a portrait of a woman with a wicked sense of humor and a penchant for spitty raspberries. I found it a quick emotional read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Faith Justice

    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 b 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. I'll be looking for a home for it soon.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    It's stories like these that seem so unreal that they can't have been non-fiction, but they are. The life of the du Pre family was hilarious at times, sad and tragic at others. So many incredible and crazy things happened to this family. The reason this book doesn't get more than 3 stars is that I found the alternating narrators a bit confusing. I often forgot who was narrating and I also felt that the narration was unevenly spread. Hilary narrated much more that Piers. I also feel that they are It's stories like these that seem so unreal that they can't have been non-fiction, but they are. The life of the du Pre family was hilarious at times, sad and tragic at others. So many incredible and crazy things happened to this family. The reason this book doesn't get more than 3 stars is that I found the alternating narrators a bit confusing. I often forgot who was narrating and I also felt that the narration was unevenly spread. Hilary narrated much more that Piers. I also feel that they aren't the best of authors. They kept jumping to new ideas without fully concluding the one they were talking about. So fascinating, but sometimes weird to read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I took about 6 months to read this and I'm glad. I only read a little at a time... I think if I tried to sit down and just read it through I would have gotten very bored, but in little snippets it was doable. This is the story of Jacqueline du Pre, a cellist who would have been world-renowned had she not died from complications of MS. She was married to Daniel Barenboim, now a famous conductor, and she was a little crazy. The book is written by her brother and sister and has some controversial i I took about 6 months to read this and I'm glad. I only read a little at a time... I think if I tried to sit down and just read it through I would have gotten very bored, but in little snippets it was doable. This is the story of Jacqueline du Pre, a cellist who would have been world-renowned had she not died from complications of MS. She was married to Daniel Barenboim, now a famous conductor, and she was a little crazy. The book is written by her brother and sister and has some controversial information in it, some that I almost couldn't believe, but overall it was a decent read

  24. 5 out of 5

    Richp

    If one wants to enjoy this as a book, think of it as a novel of people both highly functional and highly disfunctional at the same time. Suspend one's judgment of plausibility because in the real world stuff like this happens. As a memoir it is certainly very important to those interested in various subjects including the classic music world, mental illness, multiple schlerosis, and real genius. As a memoir in which the authors are major participants in some sordid situations, I speculate about If one wants to enjoy this as a book, think of it as a novel of people both highly functional and highly disfunctional at the same time. Suspend one's judgment of plausibility because in the real world stuff like this happens. As a memoir it is certainly very important to those interested in various subjects including the classic music world, mental illness, multiple schlerosis, and real genius. As a memoir in which the authors are major participants in some sordid situations, I speculate about the veracity of certain portions. That is standard for any memoir or autobio of course.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karissa

    The writing was fine and easy to read. It was written about the life of two sisters, written by one of the sisters and their brother. The story was so-so. I am not sure if it would be better if I liked reading about musicians and the cello? basically it was a weird story and a weird family. Jackie is selfish and Hilary is very odd. You don't like them both in the end. The brother seems the most normal. Very little about MS but the last chapters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Noelle

    This was pretty good, but a little disturbing too. I guess I just don't understand the music/artist lifestyle. There were certainly very moving parts of the story and how much love and dedication Hilary and Jackie had toward each other. I enjoyed it, but skipped over a lot of the music stuff that I didn't understand.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    This is a true story (my favorite kind) that will leave you feeling uncomfortable at best. Most people would probably be better off seeing the movie and skipping the book. It's a good story, but I don't think most people can relate to a woman loaning her husband sexually to her sister because the sister is a genius and needs to have sex with her sister's husband...?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book is a peek into what it is like to be a musician, and you begin to understand the relationship between music and musician. It's a great, fairly fast read, and yes, I cried my eyes out at the end. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with MS, this is a must-read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    This is an interesting story. I saw the movie as well, but the book is definitely a good read. Jacqueline duPre is one of my favorite cello players, so to get an insight of her from her real life sister who is the writer of the book is priceless.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vivien

    For those who grew up with sibling rivalry!

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