Two women, both destined to be revered as saints; but how very different in character, opinions and life-stylethey were is lucidly conveyed in this exceptional double biography, long accepted as a classic of its kind. The eagle is Saint Teresa of Avila, the national saint of Spain, a woman of beauty, breeding and culture to whom the very idea of becoming a nun was at first repugnant. Yet become a nun she did -- t only a nun, but one of the most energetic and resourceful reformers of the demoralized Spanish Church in the fanatical age of the Inquisition. The dove is Saint Therese of Lisieux, the most gently remarkable of saints, a young French bourgeois who spent her life in total obscurity as a nun and died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-four. After her death, the publication of L'Histoire d'une ame turned the Little Flower of Lisieux into a world-wide cult. 'A brilliant and sensitive piece of writing' V. S. Pritchett
The Hon. Lady Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West, was an English poet, novelist and gardener. She was famous for her exuberant aristocratic life, her strong marriage to Harold Nicolson, her passionate relationships with women and her gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent. Sackville-West's long narrative poem, The Land, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1927, and her Collected Poems won the prize again in 1933. Her best-known novels are The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931). Both titles were reissued alongside her earlier novel, Challenge (1923), by Virago in Spring 2011. In 1946 Sackville-West was made a Companion of Honour for her services to literature. The following year she began a weekly column in the Observer called In your Garden. In 1948 she became a founder member of the National Trust's garden committee. Sissinghurst Castle is now owned by the National Trust and the garden Vita Sackville-West created there is open to the public. It is one of the most visited gardens in England.