A WAYWARD INTELLECT   THE LIFE OF EGBERT EAMES

Reviews & Reader Comments

I was so touched by the first paragraph that a lump rose in my throat. Sometimes you feel a book just needs to be written A WAYWARD INTELLECT The Life of Egbert Eames by Lida Logan is just such a book.

As much social documentary as biography, the life and passions of Bert and his wife Dorothy offer a fascinating insight into a world that may be slipping from us. The letters and memories hold a mirror to the human condition as the couple is slowly revealed to us and, in fact, themselves. Watching Dorothy and Bert cling together in the face of personal adversity - and Bert's peccadilloes - is very relevant to our own throw-away age.

Yet it is the stance from which this book is written that makes it universal - that of a teenager failing to see adults have a life over and above that of being a parent. Time and again youth fails to understand age, to appreciate that older people were once young and followed interesting lives. So a great strength of this book is this window, this door ajar that draws us in, not because of Bert, but because of Lida.

The selection of material is well honed, the narrator stands back to allow the social history to stand largely unadorned - family life, political events, the Spanish civil war, refugee German Jewish children, the rise of pre-war socialism, people and friendships rising above wars - as the working classes of Europe finally find a voice. Characters can and do pop in and out of the book, like friends some fall away while others turn up years later. For humanity to survive the impact of war it comes down to individuals campaigning, fundraising and bringing refugees home to live. For Bert the swan to glide over troubled waters it also needs a Dorothy to be paddling furiously underneath. This is a lovely book.

Avenda Burnell Walsh
Artist, writer and journalist


An engrossing family biography.

This is a richly seamed, meticulously researched biography and is ample proof that the subject need not be famous or a celebrity to provide a fascinating read. Lida Logan's portrait of the father she'd once resolved never to speak to is nevertheless sympathetic and often admiring. He was a charmer, a man of boundless energy and enterprise, with equally pronounced shortcomings as a husband, father and failing businessman.

His compassion and commitment, as evidenced by his tireless support before and during the 2nd World War for Jewish families escaping from Nazi Germany, stood in contrast to his marital infidelities and his untrustworthiness with money.

Lida Logan's story describes the struggles of family life from the 1930s to the 1960s, in particular drawing a vivid and detailed picture of the harsh realities of the war years. Throughout the narrative, the character of Egbert Eames is matched for dominance by the portrayal of his wife, the remarkable Dorothy. A beautiful, resolute and impressively enterprising woman, by turns loving and bitter, she is the powerhouse of the family and its anchor.

A book written with economy and great insight, A Wayward Intellect captures the ambiguities and contradictions which exist, and compete with one another, in the same persona; and it is the flaws which fascinate.

James Watson
Author


This is not only a compelling account of the life of the author's estranged father, it is also a perceptive social and political commentary of the momentous events of the first half of the 20th Century, as experienced by an ambitious, idealistic and profoundly flawed, contradictory man.

As Lida Logan seeks to unpick her father's life and record, if not completely understand, why and in what circumstances her father's personal journey developed him inconsistently as a loving family man, womaniser, cheat, thief and life saving benefactor, she takes us on a gripping journey through a time of great conflict and political and social change.

This is a carefully crafted, concise yet comprehensive account. I could not put this book down until I knew all the author wanted to tell me of this remarkable man, her father.

Graeme Peart