[1998:] [Wilson's] understanding of Du Pré's generous, instinctive playing style is perceptive and invaluable. [...] In the Sixties and early Seventies, Du Pré and her glamorous pianist husband, Daniel Barenboim, brilliantly illuminated London's musical life as no two musicians had done before or have done since. The end of her career was shocking for audiences, bewildering and humiliating for her. [...]
A sharp portrait of suburban musical life in the Fifties and early Sixties depicts the blonde, badly dressed, but remarkable young player doing the rounds of the local music clubs and competitions round the South Circular, from Kingston to Coulsden - a stiff, dingy world of rules and regulations, of white socks, beeswaxed floors and embossed certificates. Her parents couldn't help being culturally and socially buttoned up. Who wasn't at the time? To be catapulted, as they were via their daughter, into a set as glamorous and foreign as Barenboim's would have fazed anyone. Jacqueline's mother, Iris, who some have suggested pushed her daughter too hard, too early, is shown to have been doing her best in near impossible circumstances. What choice had a parent of a gifted child at that time? Menuhin hadn't set up his school and most ordinary school music teaching was dull and ineffectual unless there happened to be an imaginative teacher. In retrospect, it is a wonder Du Pré didn't suffer educationally more than she did. How can anyone teach maths or French to someone whose only waking interest is playing the cello?
Being Jackie's siblings must have been tiresome. You can quite see why Piers and Hilary Du Pré came out of their childhood feeling slighted. Whether that gave them licence to write their book, which leaves such an acrid taste, is another matter. Wilson keeps a polite distance, concentrating on the facts. The squeamish and much publicised affair between Jacqueline and her sister Hilary's husband, Kiffer Finzi, is granted only half a page. Just as cursory is the not inconsiderable issue of Daniel Barenboim's second family, acquired when Du Pré had become an invalid. Did Jacqueline know? Probably not, but this is left unclear. [...] From Wilson's account of that painful period, he behaved impeccably - as far as he could in complex circumstances. [...]
The last years of Jacqueline Du Pré's life are covered in a few pages. Dark stories of the sick, drugged woman's bad behaviour to loyal visitors are touched on but, honourably, not itemised. (Fiona Maddocks, review of 'Jacqueline Du Pré' by Elizabeth Wilson, Observer, 18 Oct)