Cleopatra’s Nose is an exuberant gathering of essays and profiles representing twenty years of Judith Thurman’s celebrated writing, particularly her fascination with human vanity, femininity, and “women’s work”—from haute couture to literature to commanding empires. The subjects are iconic (Jackie, the Brontës, Toni Morrison, Anne Frank) and multifarious (tofu and performance art, pornography and platform shoes, kimonos and bulimia); all inspire dazzling displays of craft, wit, penetration, and intelligence.
Here we find explorations of voracity: hunger for sex, food, experience, and transcendence; see how writers from Flaubert to Nadine Gordimer have engaged with history; meet eminent Victorians and the greats of fashion. Whether reporting on hairstyles, strolling the halls of power, or deftly unpacking novels and their writers, Thurman never fails to provoke, inspire, captivate, and enlighten. Cleopatra’s Nose is an embarrassment of riches from one of our great literary journalists.