Rosemary Sullivan reflects on Where the World Was in memoir
Book Review: Where the World Was by Rosemary Sullivan
Rosemary Sullivan has written 15 books, including poetry, travelogues and short fiction; however, she is most notable for writing masterful biographies and memoirs. She has written about author Margaret Atwood, poet Elizabeth Smart, and Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin’s daughter, amongst others. In pursuing this line of work, she lived an extraordinary life filled with extraordinary adventures, creativity, and encounters. Where the World Was is a memoir of her life made up of 21 engaging essays spanning five decades, which offers an enthralling glimpse into Sullivan’s life and her encounters with intriguing personalities from around the globe.
The essays range from stories about Sullivan’s friendship with Elizabeth Smart, to the Villa Bel Air, a safe haven for artists hiding from the Nazis, to a glimpse behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union, to thought-provoking reflections on Robert Capa’s iconic photograph “The Falling Soldier,” all of which exude magnetic allure and insight.
In the book she details her travels to places such as Chile, Cuba, India, Egypt, Prague, and the Soviet Union, as well as England, France, and Greece. The collection of stories is entertaining and educational. Her writing skills stand out clearly in these stories; she can make anything sound interesting.
Where the World Was is not solely about the author. Sullivan thoughtfully introduces readers to the lives of others she encounters during her journey. Whether exploring the lives of her biographical subjects or the captivating people she meets along the way, Sullivan sees something of the essence of each.
Although the book covers a five-decade span, each story is retold as though it happened yesterday. Her meticulous recollection of conversations, scenery, and experiences adds an authentic touch to the memoir.
Throughout the book, readers gain a deep understanding of the motivation and perspective of a seasoned writer. Sullivan’s passion for her craft, combined with her thirst for knowledge and curiosity, serves as an inspiring force. Her dedication to delving into the lives of her subjects and the extensive research involved is exceptional.
As the book went on, I found myself yearning for more of Sullivan’s personal stories. Tales like her experiences while writing The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out or her research journey into Anne Frank’s life for her latest work, The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, pique curiosity and left me wishing they were included.
Sullivan’s Where the World Was is a compelling and enlightening memoir that skillfully navigates the intersections of lives and stories. Her remarkable storytelling ability, coupled with her keen observations and insatiable curiosity, paints a vivid portrait of a truly fascinating individual. Whether the reader is an avid reader, an aspiring writer, or simply a seeker of captivating tales, this book is sure to leave a lasting mark.