Bookending Realism with Fairy Tale: The Vanishing Princess by Jenny Diski

Before her death from lung cancer in 2016, Jenny Diski was perhaps best known as an essayist and travel writer, with a gift for combining travel writing with memoir, as in her 1997 work, Skating to Antarctica. She was also known, in certain circles, as “that writer Doris Lessing rescued.” That had the benefit of being true: after a painful childhood, including alleged sexual abuse and multiple stays in mental health institutions, Deski found herself in the home of Doris Lessing, probably best known to Tor.com readers as one of the few (I think perhaps the only) writer honored with both a Guest of Honor spot at Worldcon and the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A few years later, Leski started working in journalism. Eventually, she churned out acclaimed non-fiction, ten novels and one short story collection, The Vanishing Princess. Originally published in the United Kingdom in 1995, and ...