Bleaker House: How far would you travel to become a writer
8000 miles from home. 1085 calories a day. 3 months to write the novel that would make her name. At least that was the plan. But when Nell Stevens travelled to Bleaker Island in the Falklands (official population: two) she didn't count on the isolation getting to her . . .
Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a book about loneliness and creativity. It is about discovering who you are when there's no one else around. And it's about what to do when a plan doesn't work: ultimately Nell may have failed to write a novel, but she succeeded in becoming a writer.
Funny, warm and wise, Bleaker House is a book about trying, and failing, to write a novel.
Perfect -- Lena Dunham
The perfect read for anyone who has ever considered themselves "a writer" * Sunday Times Style Magazine *
Bleaker House swirls text, subtext, and context into a single narrative, a mesmerizing literary levitation act . . . lovely and thoughtful * Vogue *
It's not only her fellow writers who will be captivated by Stevens's meditative, engagingly comic reflection on the three months she spent working on a novel * Harper's Bazaar *
One of the most original, entertaining, and thought-provoking books I have ever read about the difficulty of writing a book * New Yorker *
Hilarious and original, charming and engaging. I loved it -- Rebecca Wait, author of The View on the Way Down and The Followers
Nell Stevens takes you on a wild ramble across the landscape of the writing life, and at the end sets you down somewhere entirely new and unexpected. This is a romp of a book, a genre-defying feat of the imagination, and pure pleasure to read. -- Alison Pick, Booker-longlisted author of Far to Go
I read Bleaker House in a gulp. It's a charming read whose first third has a laugh a page before Nell's odyssey turns into something more serious. You can't, just by attending writing school, learn how to produce fine writing. This clever and funny book shows you may also want to get out and experience the world, and yourself, as well. -- Dan Boothby, author of Island of Dreams
Bleaker House is so riveting and so much fun to read, I would have loved it even if it hadn't also been innovative and brilliant, but it is all those things. Nell Stevens is an excellent writer and I can't wait to read every book she writes. -- Kate Christensen, author of PEN/Faulkner-winning The Great Man Entertaining . . .
A thought-provoking reflection on writers and writing * Tatler *
I wolfed this wholly original part-memoir, part travelogue, part short story collection in one sitting, and adored it. As well as being funny, edgy, confiding, and ever so slightly horrifying, it's also a fascinating reflection on writing: how it is taught, and how it is learned. And you'll never look at a potato - or a Ferrero Rocher chocolate - in quite the same way again * Bookseller *
Fresh and spirited . . . A delightful literary debut * Kirkus *
There's something alluringly Victorian about the whole book . . . In our increasingly small and connected world, narratives that tackle the peculiar senses of loneliness and remove, and the effects they have on the self, are increasingly rare . . . Bleaker House never devolves into a stunt book. Instead, Stevens charts a path of personal and professional exploration tinged with both sadness and humor * Jezebel *
An inventive memoir about a young writer's struggle to find her literary footing * NPR *
A whimsical, good-humored, yearning-filled, thought-provoking read * Bustle *
Quirky and engaging . . . A captivating portrait of the creative life * BookPage *
This year's literary sensation . . . summer's must-read . . . an often very entertaining book about failing to write a book . . . what makes it most like something Dunham might have conceived is the comic skill with which Stevens deftly builds up a portrait of herself as the flawed but loveably self-deluding heroine of her own pyrrhic publishing scheme. This is a picaresque, recognisably human tale of a young woman's failure to follow through on the glaringly unrealistic goals she set herself. * Evening Standard *
As Stevens wrestles with questions of how (and whether) to turn the grist of life's happenings into literary material, she paints an honest portrait of writerly neurosis. * San Francisco Chronicle *
An entertaining, perverse and singular book * Observer *
Stevens writes with considerable charm and winning honesty * Guardian *
Confiding, edgy and ever-so-slightly horrifying . . . I enjoyed it so much I wolfed it in one sitting. Bleaker House is an enthralling reflection on writing: how it is taught and how you learn to do it. And you'll never look at a potato or a Ferrero Rocher in quite the same way again. * Daily Express *
Quirky . . . fascinating . . . she may not have written the novel of her dreams, but the book she has produced will resonate with anyone who has shared her ambitions [to write]. * Daily Mail *
Nell Stevens has a First in English and Creative Writing from Warwick, after which she went on to study Arabic and Comparative Literature at Harvard, and to receive a Marcia Trimble Fellowship and the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award for her MFA in Fiction at Boston University. She is currently researching a Ph.D. in Victorian literature at King's College London. She was a finalist in the 2011 Elle magazine Writing Talent Contest, and a runner-up in both the 2014 Mslexia Memoir Competition and the 2015 Mslexia Short Story Prize.