Vinton, Victoria 1955(?)–
Vinton, Victoria 1955(?)–
ADDRESSES: Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, MacAdam/Cage Publishing, 155 San-some St., Ste. 550, San Francisco, CA 94104-3615.
CAREER: Writer, novelist, and consultant. New York City Public School System, literary consultant. Has worked as a travel agent.
The Jungle Law (novel), MacAdam/Cage Publishing (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Sewanee Review and Prairie Schooner.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and library consultant Victoria Vinton examines a pivotal period in the life of renowned author Rudyard Kipling in her debut novel, The Jungle Law. Journalist, poet, and novelist Kipling, born in Bombay in 1865 and raised by a British foster family, came to the United States with his wife, Carrie, in 1892. Though the couple was impoverished, Ki-pling's literary fame was steadily increasing, and they settled in Vermont to work and raise a family. While living there, Kipling wrote The Jungle Books, the now-classic story of Mowgli, an Indian boy raised by wolves, and his numerous jungle-born animal friends and enemies.
Vinton explores in fiction Kipling's expanding literary career, his budding family, the creation of his dream house (called Naulakha), and, most significantly, the author's relationship with a neighbor boy, Joe Connolly, who helped mold some of the important characters in The Jungle Books. Joe is the son of Irish immigrant Jack Connolly, a temperamental, sometimes bitterly unpleasant man who harbors slow-burning anger at the world around him and who deeply resents the harsh life he leads. The families interact mainly through Addie Connolly, Jack's wife, who does the Kiplings' laundry. The introverted and thoughtful Joe is enchanted by Kipling's creativity and whimsy, and the author uses his storytelling ability to help draw the boy out of his shell. He shows Joe that there is more to the world than the hardscrabble life he leads on the farm. Joe is even asked for his opinions on Kipling's new character, Mowgli. When Jack learns about the friendship between his son and Kipling, he is infuriated, but despite his resentment and fury he cannot keep the two from talking. Though the families appear to get along well enough—for instance Addie assists Carrie in the birth of the Kipling's daughter—Joe withdraws after breaking his leg. Jack's simmering anger and Joe's torn loyalties boil over in the spring, and Joe runs away from home, separating the families. In Joe's absence, Addie works to repair her relationship with Jack, and Kipling goes on to a literary greatness tainted by personal loss.
In Kirkus Reviews, Vinton explained that her motivation for writing the book was in part to help restore Kipling's work to its unadulterated form and recover it from other versions that have become predominant in the public's perception. "I found The Jungle Books to be remarkable and, on some level, wanted to reclaim them from Disney," Vinton stated, referring to the animated movie adaptation of Kipling's beloved book. "Vinton mines a rich vein of intensity whether writing about landscape and weather, or the soul-expanding possibilities of the creative life," commented another Kirkus Reviews critic. The contributor concluded that the book is "radiantly colored, sensuous, respectful and rapt; an impressive debut."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2005, review of The Jungle Law, p. S14; July 15, 2005, review of The Jungle Law, p. 764.
Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2005, Michelle Widdgen, biography of Victoria Vinton, p. 106; August 29, 2005, review of The Jungle Law, p. 35.