The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington is a celebration of unstereotypical womanhood, the freedom of aging and the power of friendship. I reviewed it here. I loved it, loved the experience of sharing it, loved the avenues of research it led me down. I especially loved Carmella, the narrator's best friend, and her easy relationship. I never realized that, while the narrator was the author's projection of herself as an impossibly old woman, Carmella had a real-life counterpart as well: artist Remedios Varo.
The women were both artists. They were both muses to cranky Surrealists. They both ran from the war and ended up exiled in Mexico. They were both held against their will--Carrington in a mental institution, Varo by the French police. They both had spectacular, hard lives, and probably found some comfort in the partial reflection of that reality in one another.
I learned about Varo in the great essay, How To Be Old: Two Women, Their Husbands, Their Cats, Their Alchemy, by Carrie Frye over at The Awl.* The essay focuses on the biography of the two women, how they intersect and how their friendship appears in each's writing, mostly The Hearing Trumpet. I called Carrington's language in that book "precise [and] pulsing;"
Frye calls it "a kind of glissading bumptious kangaroo splendor." That
assessment endeared her to me, along with her assertion that the writing
in The Hearing Trumpet seems to impart the desire to make people happy, instead of to impress them.
All of this is to say that I want to read more of Varo's writing and see more of her amazing art. You should read this essay and follow what it makes you want to do.
*(But why is the title of the page "A History of Cat-Loving Women?" That is the worst.)