"A bold feat of imagination . . . . Intriguing and moving: a fictional recovery of the woman's interior experience . . . and a powerful meditation upon the nature of creativity. Both an arresting interpretation of George Eliot's work and a compelling fiction in its own right." -Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch
Gwendolen, an exceptionally beautiful, young upper-class Englishwoman, is gambling boldly at a German resort (winning big, then losing just as soundly) when she learns from her twice-widowed mother that their fortune has been lost. The eldest in a family of sisters, Gwendolen is now responsible for all of them, and, though a fine archer and rider, she has little more than her good looks to offer. When an extraordinarily wealthy aristocrat proposes marriage, she accepts, despite her discovery of an alarming secret about his past.
This novel is Gwendolen's passionate later-life letter to the man she did not marry, and reveals what happened across the brutal and transformative years of her early twenties. That she is also the heroine of George Eliot's novel Daniel Deronda (and is writing to Deronda) will intrigue and delight legions of Eliot fans, but debut novelist Diana Souhami has brilliantly and movingly breathed fresh life into a classic in ways that will appeal to readers entirely unfamiliar with Eliot's fictions.
'When Eliot drops the thread, Souhami comes into her own ... Eliot neglected to find a proper home for Gwendolen. Souhami, with sympathy, mischief and imagination, gives her one' Boyd Tonkin, Independent. 'An act of breathtaking chutzpah: Gwendolen Harleth stands alongside Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Edith Wharton's Lily Bart as one of the most compelling characters in the history of the novel, and to assume creative responsibility for her is not for the faint-hearted ... It is intriguing, and it is brave' Guardian.
Diana Souhami is the author of Gluck: Her Biography, Greta and Cecil, The Trials of Radclyffe Hall (shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Biography and winner of the US Lambda Literary Award), the bestselling Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter (also winner of the Lambda Literary Award and a New York Times 'Notable Book of the Year'), Selkirk's Island (winner of the Whitbread Biography award), Coconut Chaos, Natalie and Romaine and the critically praised Edith Cavell and Murder at Wrotham Hill. She lives in London.