The Enigmatic Mr Deakin by Judith Brett – Our Review
Some of the great pleasures of this book are its quiet insights. A fascinating study of the politics and the times, the man, and the women closest to him, it brings to life the history and the moments of decision, as well as the paths not taken. It has much to offer the thinkers of today.
With calm understatement, Brett describes Deakin as a complicated man. He had “multifarious interests, a propensity for temporary enthusiasms and a large archive.”
He kept a prayer diary and a séance record, and he was an avid reader. Despite the pressures of work and family, he set aside time every day for reading. Loss of this pleasure as his mind declined caused him acute distress.
Brett also sympathetically illustrates the tensions between Deakin’s sister, who cherished him and supported his family, and his wife, of whom he wrote towards the end of his life, “I am more than ever her lover and server.”
Deakin believed he was “singled out by higher powers to do great work on behalf of a cause”. I can imagine him, pen in hand, “trying to solve the riddle of himself”. In the end, Brett says, he was judged a failure as a leader. One of the criticisms then levelled at him was that he was not “a good hater”.
Review by Andrea @ Great Escape Books