Lucid, agile, juicy, nuanced... engrossing... The virtue of [books like this] is their brisk pen portraits, their patient explanation of ideas, and their dexterity with sources, not only the many books by their subjects, about their subjects, or both, but archival material.
Lively and readable... the successes and failures of this queer trio are fascinating and Dunn is illuminating... The bush is thick, but she manages to cut a path that is worth treading, even to those who feel they've seen enough of this period. Her prose is spry and racy.
A work of mature and meticulous scholarship that weaves a compelling picture of Oxford at a time when the world was turned on its head, but the university soldiered on, tolerating eccentricity and nurturing greatness.
Her erudition and energy are thrillingly applied...The effect is both refreshing and inspiring, like the first glass of champagne of the day... this is a witty and deeply researched book. It is full of revelations. She writes in an authoritative and hugely readable fashion and avoids anachronistic value judgements.
Echoes of Ancient Greece haunt the most eccentric of university cities in this poignant yet comic tale of hope and loss between the wars. Daisy Dunn writes with masterly control.
Ebullient...Dunn writes with intelligence and verve.
Daisy Dunn's fascinating portrayal of academic Oxford in the first half of the 20th century is profoundly perceptive, frequently funny, and remarkably well written. Focussed mainly on the world of classical scholarship, she provides a lucid account of the professional and private lives of such remarkable figures as, among others, Gilbert Murray, Maurice Bowra, T.S. Eliot and Louis MacNeice, all depicted with an exceptional understanding not only of the characters themselves but the eccentric world which they inhabited.
Endlessly fascinating...this book is an absolute delight. Its strength lies in its focus on lesser-known figures over more obvious candidates. Dunn wears her serious scholarship lightly as she traces the interconnected lives of some of the finest minds of a generation.
If your shelves heave with Brideshead Revisited, Zuleika Dobson, Gaudy Night, Northern Lights and Inspector Morse, you're going to love Daisy Dunn's dons...She has a gift for making the arcane accessible and the forbidding more friendly...Dunn eloquently captures this short-lived, vanishing world.
Ambitiously, ingeniously, she tells the public history of Oxford University between the wars through the interwoven stories of these three classicists... this is a bold, thoughtful, rollicking history, with splendid set pieces. Rosalind Howard's promotion of the Gilbert/Mary match is hilarious, and the 1936 Regius race a nail-biter.
In this clever, engrossing book, Daisy Dunn sets the myth of inter-war Oxford against the reality...it is this Oxford, brave and progressive as well as decadent, spiteful and shockingly misogynistic, that Daisy Dunn brings to life in this thoughtful, compelling history.
Eager and spritely, sometimes laugh-aloud funny, sometimes saddening, and narrated with the affability of a good-natured and digressive raconteur... delightfully conceived and consistently interesting.
The prodigious research...is obvious in the detailed, elegantly told story of a city in transition...Dunn, a leading female historian...offers a vivid portrait of a place of privilege and pranks.
Naturally the subject is one which will always interest me, having known all these people as "the grown ups" in my youth... an amazing book, elegantly erudite.
Delightfully gossipy...Dr Dunn is a classicist, exuding knowledge of and enthusiasm for Greek literature.
Focusing on the rivalry of three classical scholars, Daisy Dunn skillfully tells the story of Oxford between the wars: a story of passion, jealousy, debate, exuberance and foreboding.
One of the joys of Dunn's fascinating book is her ability to control the comic tone and leaven it with sober and often moving details...Bowra's unwittingly disastrous part in Operation Valkyrie, the thwarted plot to assassinate Hitler, is rendered brilliantly, showing Dunn's acute abilities as a storyteller...this is an immensely readable and meticulously researched book.
The wide galère of interwar Oxford, with its High Table malice and wit, forbidden lust, and occasionally noble political convictions is encapsulating. For all the funny anecdotes and Brideheadian overtones of the era, sometimes decisions taken there had lethal consequences. The interaction of Dunn's three eccentric yet somehow emblematic Classics dons - Bowra, Murray and Dodds - stay in the mind long after the last page. This sparkling and fascinating book confirms the fact that Daisy Dunn's historical capacity reaches far beyond the Ancient World.
A delightful study of idiosyncratic brilliance, Daisy Dunn's illumination of Oxford as a place of humane minds is uplifting.