The Victorian and the Romantic by Nell Stevens

The Victorian and the Romantic

History meets memoir in two irresistible true-life romances--one set in 19th century Rome, one in present-day Paris and London--linked by a bond between women writers a hundred years apartIn 1857, English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell completed her most famous work: the biography of her dear friend Charlotte Bronte. As publication loomed, Mrs. Gaskell was keen to escape the reviews. So, leaving her dull minister husband and dreary provincial city be...

Details The Victorian and the Romantic

TitleThe Victorian and the Romantic
Release DateAug 7th, 2018
PublisherDoubleday Books
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Historical, Romance, Biography Memoir, Cultural, Italy, European Literature, British Literature, Contemporary, History

Reviews The Victorian and the Romantic

  • Rebecca
    I was ambivalent about the author’s first book (Bleaker House), but for a student of the Victorian period this was unmissable, and the meta aspect was fun and not off-putting this time.If the mere thought of reading about someone else’s thesis is enough to make your eyes glaze over – trust me, I know: my husband’s currently in the throes of writing up his PhD in Biology – never fear; Stevens has a light touch, and flits between Gaskell...
  • Susan
    For some time I have had, “Bleaker House,” by Nell Stevens on my reading radar. It lingers on my seemingly endless, ‘to be read,’ list – has lingered so long, in fact, that her next book came out, “Mrs Gaskell and Me.” Having decided that I should just get on and read something by Ms Stevens, whose work intrigues me, I settled down to try this and I am so glad I did.This is something between a fictionalised biography and a real life...
  • Roman Clodia
    This might be a bit of an acquired taste as Nell Stevens, a PhD student at Kings, London, writes a book about ‘Nell Stevens’, a PhD student at Kings, London... The introduction states upfront that ‘this is a work of imagination’ – and in a way it’s the anti-thesis that Stevens couldn’t write telling as it does the imaginatively-reconstructed story of Elizabeth – Lily, who knew? – Gaskell’s understated but important love affair...
  • Bethany
    The Victorian and the Romantic is a genre-bending narrative that is immensely readable and at times funny and poignant. Part modern-day memoir, part historical examination, we follow dual narratives: that of the author as she embarks on a PhD in literature, and that of her research subject-Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell. Separated by more than a century, the lives of the two women parallel each other in interesting ways. Both are writers who ...
  • Janille N G
    I LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!!!To be clear, I am definitely the target audience for The Victorian and the Romantic because I have a Master's in English and I specialized in Victorian literature...and of course, like most academics, I considered for many years going on to do my PhD. I myself was interested in the works of female authors in the 19th century, mainly Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell, and so I knew I would relate personally to...
  • Moray Teale
    I received a free advance copy through Netgalley and Pan Macmillan in return for an honest review.I should really stop reading stories that are by/about writers failing at their PhDs, they so often end up occupying a no-mans-land between fiction and academia that I find intensely irritating. In this offering of fictionalised biolgraphy and autobiography Nell's thesis on Mrs Gaskell is plagued by vagueness and a lack of commitment as well as the l...
  • Edwin John Moorhouse Marr
    Normally I no longer write Goodreads reviews. But this book is one I really feel I need to, because this is one of the strangest reading experiences I have ever had. If I had read this two months ago, or read it in two months time, I would hate it. It would easily be a 2 star review for me, because in many ways this book does so many things I can't stand. It makes stuff up, it plays around with history in a fairly self-indulgent way (Samantha Ell...
  • Patricia Highsmith's Snail
    I’m glad I read this when I was in the right mood! Nell Stevens is v good at filling the page with herself (a description of Mrs Gaskell by the narrator who is called...Nell Stevens). This is largely a good thing - I really enjoyed her account of the break up of her relationship (which sounds wrong but she tells it well) and her PhD woes. Whether the story of her romance and Mrs Gaskell’s own thwarted romance with an American hang together, I...
  • Abby
    Ms. Stevens: I love you.
  • Dolores
    Many scholars would like to write memoirs or novels, and many novelists would like to be scholars. British writer Nell Stevens has mastered all these skills. In her new book, The Victorian and the Romantic, Stevens combines two stories: an account of her own romance with an American named Max, and a retelling of the flirtation between British novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and American critic Charles Eliot Norton in 1857. Rome is the center of Mrs. G...
  • Catherine
    Thank you to Doubleday Books for the free review copy & Out of Print epigraph print!I spotted this book floating around Instagram as part of the second Doubleday summer box giveaway and I couldn’t resist requesting a review copy of The Victorian and the Romantic. First, that cover: millennial pink, the trench coat? (YES, I choose way too many of my books based on the cover art alone but I can’t resist a killer aesthetic above all else!)I was ...
  • Kales
    I wasn't expecting to get so much out of this 250-ish page memoir but it was, in an odd way, magical. I was transported into the world of Mrs. Gaskell, of whom I had never heard of previously. But then, her story was pleasantly juxtaposed with Nell Stevens own accounts and struggles. It was like JULIE AND JULIA but for English majors, not chefs. Mrs. Gaskell's section was told in second person which I have honestly never read a book in the second...
  • Melissa
    I was interested in this book because I liked Stevens’s previous work Bleaker House and also the work of Elizabeth Gaskell. And, well, this combination memoir-imaginative biography (biographical novella) combining Stevens’s work for her PhD about 19th century artists, her love for Gaskell’s work and the unfulfilled love affair (?) between Gaskell and Charles Eliot Norton is a strange hodge-podge of styles. The choice to use 2nd person narra...
  • Alyssa Galindo
    *I received an ARC of this novel on Net Galley in exchange for my honest review* Wow Wow Wow. I absolutely ADORED this half biography of Mrs. Gaskell’s life/ real life memoir of the author. It was refreshing, witty, emotional and relatable. I was surprised how much I fell in love with the struggles of Nell and how she wrote about them so honestly. It takes a lot for a writer to have this level of transparency and still communicate their feeling...
  • Sophie
    Bloody loved it!
  • Rose
    I loved this book. It was beautifully written and I found it hard to put down. I loved the alternating viewpoints and how when in the viewpoint of Gaskell it was written "you" as if the reader were Gaskell. I loved, loved, loved, this book. It is memoir and history combined. I can't wait to read more from this author. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my o...
  • Book Seller GV
    Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite writers, and the journey Nell takes with her through the wilds of academia is lovely. A must-read for fans of Victorian literature!
  • Girl with her Head in a Book
    For my full review: read The Life of Charlotte Brontë when I was thirteen and was appalled.  I couldn't believe someone had written a biography so demonstrably false.  About ten years later, I watched the BBC adaptation of North and South and fell in love with John Thornton.  Reading the book affirmed the impression and I decided maybe Mrs Gaskell had redeeming qualities.  However, Brooding abou...
  • Sarai Davila
    As an essayist/reader of essays, I often find a lot of joy in reading about the mundane. In fact, the mundane to me is often a place where profound thought and insight can happen. Somehow, despite this, I found Stevens' book to be, in many ways, dreary, rather than mundane. The hardest thing for me about TVandtR is that Stevens is paralleling her life with Gaskell's. At times, I saw the point, particularly when both Gaskell and Stevens wish for s...
  • Chelsea Bennett
    I mostly enjoyed this book, but it's far from my favorite. I didn't really know who Elizabeth Gaskell was before reading the book. Nell Stevens was most enchanting when she imagined and embellished Gaskell's story.I was feeling for the author/narrator, and rooting for her, I really was. But then, one incident in the book completely changed my perception of her.(view spoiler)[When she lived in a treehouse in Texas, and was told by her landlady tha...
  • Jill Jemmett
    I’m not usually a fan of nonfiction. The stories have to be very intriguing for me to read them. I loved this book and I couldn’t put it down!The narrative switched between Nell’s modern story and the story of Elizabeth Gaskell’s life. The story of Elizabeth’s life was unique because it was written in second person, as if you, the reader, are Elizabeth Gaskell. The other stories I have read which are written in second person come across...
  • Victoria Wood
    Full Review, Overview, and Commentary on my blog - Victorian and The Romantic follows two narratives : Nell Stevens as she studies for her PhD, and the life of her research subject, Elizabeth Gaskell. The book alternates between chapters of Stevens’ life, and Gaskell’s as she discovers more about her, and how their lives are somewhat running parallel to each other. Despite being from different eras,...
  • Molly Anderson
    Nell Stevens’ long anticipated memoir/historical novel The Victorian and the Romantic is one of a few Advance Reader e-books I received from my friends at Doubleday Books and, and I thought it was such a fun book! The Victorian and the Romantic switches back and forth between chapters that focus on the life of Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell, and chapters that talk about Nell’s experience with love and heartbreak while studyi...
  • Cherise Wolas
    I enjoyed this interesting mash-up of memoir and Ph.D pursuit focused on Mrs. Gaskell (the mid-19th century author of Cranford, North-South and many other novels, including a nonfiction book about the life of her friend Charlotte Bronte, etc.), and Mrs. Gaskell's life as revealed by the Ph.D research. In some ways, at its core, it's about unrequited love, in the present day - between the narrator and Max, the object of her affection, and 150 year...
  • Liz Pardey
    The author (it's a memoir actually woven with an imaginative interpretation of part of the life of Elizabeth Gaskell, a Victoria novelist), Nell, is writing her doctoral thesis about English speaking authors in Rome in the mid 1800s, with special emphasis on Mrs Gaskell. While she is reading letters and doing research for her thesis, Nell is also involved with Max; their love affair ends cataclysmic ally for her and we suffer with her. She deveop...
  • Sarah
    I loved Stevens' prosaic way of describing love, heartbreak, and emotional negotiations. It moved me while not being overly saccharine, and certainly not cliche. The protagonist is emotive, intelligent, and relatable. I enjoyed her developing relationship to her PHD and Mrs. Gaskell; a refreshingly honest narrative of a woman becoming entangled in her academic pursuits and thereby parsing out the voice and desires of a strong female figure in his...
  • Lissa
    Nell Stevens spent the time writing her Ph.D. immersed in the life of Elizabeth Gaskell and her famous artistic friends in Rome while also juggling an intense long distance relationship.  In this memoir, she toggles between her own life a this time and imagined conversations with Gaskell.  I enjoyed the memoir portions of this book much more than the episodes featuring Gaskell and her friends, so I sometimes skimmed those chapters.  I think th...
  • Maureen
    I so want to say this was engrossing, fascinating, amusing, heart-wrenching, but I can only say it was OK. Eh. I did not feel compelled to rush back to its pages. As a matter of fact, I skipped some of the Mrs. Gaskell story. The Nell Stevens memoir story did hold my interest much, much more. I guess I would recommend it, but it would not be the first book I'd reach for if heading to the beach.That said, Nell Stevens does have a wonderful writing...
  • Cindy Ladensack
    Interesting concept—the parallels between the author’s contemporary romantic and writing lives, and those of Elizabeth Gaskell in the mid-19th century—and it was also a bittersweet and poignant reminder of those single, insecure college days, but I was just not all that engrossed. Just felt it needed more..... I don’t know, depth, I guess, particularly the historical characters: they needed to be more fleshed out, more real (e.g. why/how ...
  • Holly
    I couldn't put this down. I loved learning more about Elizabeth Gaskell and the circle of artists and writers with whom she associated in England and Rome. The present story about the troubled academic - part biography part fiction - is also a compelling depiction of writer's/life block and relationships. The two stories are interwoven and the bittersweet lives of both writers complement each other. I need to find Nell's first book, stat!