Barbara Belford Violet: The Story of the Irrepressible Violet Hunt and Her Circle of Lovers and Friends—Ford Madox Ford, H. G. Wells, Somerset Maugham, and Henry James.
Simon & Schuster, 351 pages, $22.95

Violet Hunt (1862-1942) had an affair with every man mentioned in this book’s subtitle, except one. Most readers can probably guess who the exception is. Suffice it to say that Hunt’s most noteworthy run-in with Henry James was that she was one of the theater critics who panned his 1895 play Guy Domville, the flop that finally convinced James he was no playwright. In her memoirs, Hunt described James being booed off the London stage on opening night during the curtain call: The audience’s derision ringing in his ears, James walked offstage “sadly and patiently, rather like an elephant who had had a stone put into his trunk instead of a bun.”

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