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

Reviews The Victorian and the Romantic

  • Diane S ☔
    I wasn't particularly fond of Nell's story. Dramatic pinnings of a lost love. Also, couldn't make heads nor tales of her random meanderings in Mrs. Gaskells life. I do, however, admire her creativity in trying a new, or new to me, form of memoir. It did also spark my interest in Gaskells biography of Charlotte Bronte and in reading a biography of Gaskells herself.
  • Katie Lumsden
    I have to say, I completely adored this. It's an unusual, odd and intensely powerful novel, a story of love, books, writing and self-discovery. It's not often I read a book that discusses the theme of reading and the love of reading so brilliantly and so well - and of course, I loved the presence Elizabeth Gaskell has in this novel. I found it intensely moving, and would highly recommend.
  • 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 fli I was ambivalent...
  • 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...
  • Laura
    3.5 stars. This was a cross between a memoir of a time in the author's life when she was going for her Ph.D and a biography of part of Elizabeth Gaskell's life as well. I enjoyed it; it does make me want to read more of Gaskell's work, but I didn't love it. I think Stevens is a good writer though, and I look forward to trying her novel that she is apparently working on now. I'm glad I read this book, but for me, there's nothing bright and shiny a...
  • Amy
    I adored this book! I generally don’t like novels that weave between a historical story and a modern day researcher/historian trying to figure her own life out as informed by this other past life (how is this a genre, much less one I know well enough to have an opinion about) but actually this is a memoir and a lovely depiction of a real person grappling with a subject she’s trying to write about and understand—and I do relate to that! I'm ...
  • Beth Bonini
    ”’I’ve read all your work,” she says, ‘and I have to say, I’m still not entirely sure I understand what your point is.’ ‘My point?’ ‘Your argument. What is it, exactly, that you are trying to say?’ ‘I want to say . . . I’m trying to say . . . I’m writing about ways of being close to people,’ I say. ‘I’m writing about the places where artists come together, and the ways they obtain closeness.’”Nell Stevens dec...
  • 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...
  • Sher
    What I did like:Her creative process - taking her own life and reflecting on the life and attitudes, experiences, and emotions of a 19th C author.I liked looking at Stevens's experience and looking at what she wrote about Gaskell and trying to see what was going on for Stevens- but basically I used fictional analysis on her work. I felt like I was reading fiction. Well, partly, it was weird and weird mix of bio and memoir. What I did not like:I w...
  • Kiki
    An absolutely wonderful and enjoyable memoir written by a woman working on her doctorate regarding Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell. Nell Stevens s fascinated by Gaskell and her friendships and her fascination with Rome and especially, her unrequited love for younger \American Charles Eliot Norton. Ah, but the road to her doctorate is not a smooth one. Reflecting herself in the story of unrequited love, Nell is also madly in love with an Americ...
  • 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...
  • Abby
    Ms. Stevens: I love you.
  • 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...
  • Audra (Unabridged Chick)
    I fell in love with Stevens' first book, Bleaker House, because she lived a life as I daydreamed about: dramatic escapes with the (possibly) deluded hope of being jolted into brilliant creativity. In this, Stevens settles for the more mundane: the painful pragmatism of everyday life, made all the more boring by a deep yearning. In her case, for an almost constantly out-of-reach lover; for Mrs. Gaskell, a life lived differently.This is a fast read...
  • Julie Mebane
    If only I could make my own dissertation fun to read about...
  • Sophie
    Bloody loved it!
  • 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...
  • Aya
    I LIKED bleaker house but I LOVE this book which has so much about heartbreak and love and the shades of affection. Like bleaker house this book weaves stories and styles but keeps a true character at the center— it reaches out on a limb like bleaker but catches itself.
  • 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...
  • 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 McNaughton
    *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...
  • 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...
  • Penny
    Very mixed feelings about this book.I like the idea - two writers a century and a half apart but apparently finding common ground in their lives. Nell Stevens describes her personal and academic life over a few years in chapters alternating with that of the life of Mrs Gaskell in her late 40s when she met Charles Eliot Norton.The main problem for me was Steven's relationship with 'Max', a man who practically had 'keep away' stamped on his forehea...
  • Kirsten
    This book is sits in a space triangulated by memoir, biography and fiction which might make you think it’s going to be a disaster but it’s actually a very creative and fascinating account of two lives, lived a over century apart. Stevens is an endearing writer and I really enjoy her perspective on life, and in this case, history. Possibly not for everyone but definitely for the literature buffs. And anyone who’s ever had anything to do with...
  • Claire
    Having heard Jen Campbell talk about this book on her channel, I knew I needed to pick it up. Not only do I love Elizabeth Gaskell, but I also really enjoy reading memoir/essay collections and this one satisfied my craving for memoir and fiction. Sitting somewhere in the middle, Stevens beautifully tells the story of her years writing her PhD, whilst simultaneously exploring Gaskell's life and her time in Rome. She beautifully pins down the feeli...
  • Lauren Straley
    I adored every word of this book. As a lover of Victorian art, literature, and culture, this book couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. The interwoven story line between the author and its heroine, Mrs. Gaskell kept the narrative steady and poised throughout. This is one story you shouldn’t miss!
  • Hayley
    I like the spirit of this book. It is an imaginative memoir. Nell is writing her PhD on Elizabeth Gaskell and the community of writers and artists that lived in Rome for a period. The chapters flip between Nell's life in the 2000s and an account of Mrs. Gaskell's life in the nineteenth century. I found the use of the second-person to tell Mrs. Gaskell's narrative a bit jarring. Nell's struggles and wallowing in the rare book library reminded me w...