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Hilary and Jackie: The True Story of Two Sisters Who Shared a Passion, a Madness and a Man by Hilary du Pre (1998-12-07)

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Review Text

  • By lexwriter on April 2, 2016

    I had to enroll in an Anger Management program while reading this book. I saw the movie shortly after its original release in the late 1990s and became fascinated with the life of Jacqueline DuPre. My mind plays an endless loop of DuPre's rendition of Elgar's Cello Concerto. I have seen countless videos -- DuPre performing with Perlman, husband Daniel Barrenboim, Zuben Mehta, Leonard Bernstein and many others. I have read countless articles about Dupre. The book is told in alternating chapters by Dupre's siblings, Hilary and Piers. Hilary is a couple of years older than Jackie; Piers is the baby of the family, a few years younger than Jackie. Unfortunately, as her narrative unfolds. Hilary cannot hide her relentless, obsessive jealousy of her talented sister. Originally titled, A Genius in the Family (the title was reworked to match the movie title), the word "genius" is an understatement when describing Jacqueline DuPre. Cello maters Rostropovich and Casals considered her the leading cellist of her generation and their only student who could become the greatest in the world. Her Stradavarious cello is among the most legendary of all musical instruments For a while, it was on loan to Yo Yo Ma, the popular cellist who possesses a fraction of Jackie's talent. It wasn't just Hilary's vile jealousy that propels her vindictive words, it is as if she rues that fact that her sister was even born, all the while playing lip service to her devotion When Jacqueline DuPre was stricken by the disease that ended her incomparable career while in her 20 and killed her by her early 40s, Hilary displayed hatred and pettiness rather than sympathy. Meantime, Hilary's husband - a noteworthy conductor (on a minor scale)), a known womanizer was having an affair with Jacqueline, which Hilary bizarrely claims she acknowledged and tacitly authorized in deference to Jacqueline DuPre's mental difficulties (caused by the Multiple Sclerosis) In contrast, Pier DuPre's chapter demonstrated his great love and admiration for his prodigiously talented sister. At only one point in the book -- when Jacqueline's MS damaged the part of her brain that governs emotions, leaving her helpless to avoid engaging in cruel rants and devastating personal attacks against every family member. Although little was known about MS, a neurological disease that attacks the myelin sheaths that protect the body's complex network of nerves (the disease can wreak havoc on just a few or many areas of the path of the nerve tissue It can affect the brain, the spine -- any part of the body where nerves are present, The deterioration of the protective tissue that surrounds the nerves causes impulses to fly everywhere and anywhere, sometimes making it impossible for its victims to walk or move in any way. Some have mild cases, others have symptoms that go into remission for years before returning. Most have long lives.. For Jackie, the disease was relentless and quick -- her debilitation complete. Yet Hilary couldn't add two and two -- even in the absence of medical information and deduce that, "Hey, my sister is dying. She is disappearing. She has no control of her emotions. It is not her fault." And she failed to impart any wisdom to her sweet brother who was devastated by his beloved Jackie's abuse. As it turns out, legions of friends, fellow performers, teachers and other individuals who were in Jacqueline DuPre's orbit deny Hilary DuPre's account. It is disgusting. However, the book is well written and fills in many blanks the movie cannot illuminate. If you want to know the truth about Jacqueline DuPre,, read articles in respecte newspapers, see You Tube videos --and listen to breathtaking music this once in a lifetime performer was able to create. Also note her wonderful sense of humor, her playful spirit and her passion. Discount the B.S that Hilary DuPre perpetuates in this book.

  • By C. M Mills on November 8, 2007

    Jacqueline Du Pre (1945-1987) was the great English cellist who died early of MS. In this family reminiscence her sister Hillary and her brother Piers share their memories of Jackie and their muscial family. The book is very touching bringing a tear to the eye as it begins with a letter Hilary wrote about her feeling following the death of Jackie. The Du Pre name derives from the Channel Island of Jersey. Mr. Du Pre the father of Hilary and her younger siblings Jackie and Piers was a sensitve man who was shy, quiet and a methodical accountant. Their mother was a superb musician who had studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Jackie grew up with cello lessons from age five while Hilary played the piano and flute. Jackie had little formal schooling focusing on her musical genius. She would achieve worldwide fame. Hilary opted for marriage becoming the mother of four children. Jackie was a big, blond woman who had a determined and charismatic aura about her. Her playing was unique and inspired. Her Elgar concerto is peerless and she also excelled in the cello concerto literature. She skyrocketed to fame in her teens. She was essentially an English country girl delighting in rambles through the countryside; coarse joking with friends and family. She converted to Judaism following her marriage to the famed conductor Daniel Barenboim ( He was from Russian Jewish parents and was born in Argentina in 1942). Jackie had a mecurial personality and soon ran into an emotional tailspin with her unhappy marriage. It was learned by her siblings that Barenboim had a Russian pianist mistress in Paris who gave birth to two children. Jackie and Barenboim were childless. Jackie envied her sister's large and happy family. She seduced Hilary's husband.Jackie had a serious emotional breakdown. The constant travel, artistic pressures, a difficult marriage and complex relationships with her Dad , mother, sister and brother took their toll on fragile Jackie. The chapters dealing with how Jackie became bitter and suffered in the last few years of her life are sad reading. She was a good person who had emotional/psychological/physical debility but loved her family deeply. Jacqueline Du Pre will live forever as a great artist. This book became the basis of the highly successful film "Jackie and Hilary." It's British title is "A Genius in the Family." Other books are available which dispute some of the material in this book. Hilary is by far a better writer than her brother Piers. She moves your soul as her deep love for her difficult sister is manifest in her painfully crafted narrative. The world is a better place because of the music of Jacqueline Du Pre.This little book is a touching look back at her life as a member of a loving British family. Recommended.


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