Ivy Compton-Burnett and
Margaret Jourdain
In 1960, an American friend of ours, then a young writer in London, found herself, after lunch at the Travellers' Club, sharing a taxi home with Ivy Compton-Burnett. At first Compton-Burnett talked to our friend, in a normal conversational tone, about the club, their host, the food, and so on.
Then, with a marginal shift of the head, but absolutely no shift of tone, she started talking to Margaret Jourdain, her companion of thirty years. The fact that Jourdain, far from being in the cab with them, had been dead since 1951 made no difference. That was who she wanted to talk to, and did so for the rest of the journey back to South Kensington.
--- From Levels of Life
© 2013, Julian Barnes
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