I am wondering what "Despite the impression she works hard to convey of bohemian vagueness" means in the following sentences:

‘How sweet,’ Mum’s saying to Hannah. ‘Five’s a lovely age.’ She’s certainly doing a very good job of acting interested. ‘And how are your two, Ronan?’ she calls down the table. I wonder if it is an intentional slight, not to have included Séverine in her question. Actually – scrap that, I don’t need to wonder. Despite the impression she works hard to convey of bohemian vagueness, very little my mother does is unintentional.

  • Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 14

This is a thriller novel published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. One hundred and fifty guests would be gathering at some remote and deserted fictional islet called Inis an Amplóra off the coast of the island of Ireland to celebrate the wedding between Jules (a self-made woman running an online magazine called The Download) and Will (a celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night). The day before the actual wedding day, during the rehearsal dinner, Jules sees her mom talking to Hannah. But then, suddenly, her mom begins to talk to her dad, who is divorced from her mom and is re-married to his latest wife Séverine.

In this part, I am finding it difficult to understand what the boldfaced phrase means, because the structure feels to be somewhat tangled to me.

Is it "the impression of"...? Or "convey of"...? And what would "bohemian vagueness" mean...? I have no idea, so I would like to ask for your help.

  • Have you looked for 'convey', 'bohemian', and vagueness' in a dictionary? Apr 18, 2021 at 10:08
  • Dear @MichaelHarvey, thank you very much for the comment. Yes, actually I looked them up, but I was confused about the structure of the phrase, and as to how the words might mean in combination, so I just wanted to ask your opinion. :) Apr 18, 2021 at 11:04
  • The "base statement" is She works hard to convey an impression of bohemian vagueness. But the writer asserts that despite this, her mother very rarely does anything "unintentionally". That's to say, the mother pretends to be "unfocused" and "spontaneous", but she's actually a shrewd and calculating sort of person, who never does or says anything without thinking. Apr 18, 2021 at 14:06
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    Dear @FumbleFingers, thank you very much for the explanation. So Jules is saying that, although her mother tries very hard to deliver the image of artistic unfocusedness, her mother is actually a very calculating type of person who almost always behaves with certain intention. I sincerely appreciate your help. :) Apr 19, 2021 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


It is "impression of", not "convey of". Indeed the sentence structure is a bit awkward - it would be more straightforward to write "Despite the impression of bohemian vagueness she works hard to convey".

"Bohemian vagueness" describes a sort of demeanour one might associate with an artist, or hippie, or romantic, or otherwise unconventional person. Not answering questions directly, being imprecise with details, making apparently meaningful statements that are hard to interpret clearly, preferring to talk about spiritual matters or intellectual ideas rather than about the electricity bill or the time of the appointment at the dentist.

  • Dear James Martin, thank you very much for the explanation. I think your examples about "bohemian vagueness" are really pin-point! I immediately understood what this "bohemian vagueness" might mean thank to your examples. Indeed, they would just talk about spiritual matters rather than bill payments. I sincerely appreciate your help. :) Apr 19, 2021 at 9:46

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