Author(s): Michele Roberts
From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a sensuous, evocative novel exploring the lives of women in Victorian London, for fans of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Kate Atkinson
2011: When Madeleine loses her job as a lecturer, she decides to leave her riverside flat in cobbled Stew Lane, where history never feels far away, and move to Apricot Place. Yet here too, in this quiet Walworth cul-de-sac, she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life.
1851: and Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. Roaming the Southwark streets, he is tempted by brothels' promises of pleasure - and as he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house.
As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past and present, the two eras brush against each other - a breath at Madeleine's neck, a voice in her head - the murmurs of ghosts echoing through time. Rendered in immediate, intoxicating prose, The Walworth Beauty is a haunting tale of desire and exploitation, isolation and loss, and the faltering search for human connection; this is Michele Roberts at her masterful best.
A magnificent writer -- Helen Dunmore Guardian
Michele Roberts is one of those writers descended perhaps as much from Monet and Debussy as Virginia Woolf or Keats ... To read a book by her is to savour colour, sound, taste, texture and touch as never before The Times Her fictions are high-risk, unconventional ... The otherwise cautious reader is taken almost without realising it into dangerous and exhilarating territory -- Rachel Cusk
A disciplined and elegant writer Observer
Writing of such a high calibre can make you feel that the life of the mind is everything, that the acute observation and intelligence of the writer is a sort of mirror to what matters most in life ... Strong and lustrous prose -- Susie Boyt Financial Times
Roberts's greatest skill is the insight with which she writes about women caught up in heightened states of awareness ... Her writing breaks new ground The Times One of Britain's best novelists Independent on Sunday
Roberts is at her best when she writes about food and sex, about feelings and desires that cut across boundaries of time and class Sunday Times
Michele Roberts is the author of thirteen highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House, which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her most recent novel Ignorance was longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2013 and her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud- stories of sex and love (2010). Half-English and half-French, Michele Roberts lives in South-East London. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. micheleroberts.co.uk