Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5 Stars
London, 1858. Passionate, contradictory, and fiercely loyal to his friends, John Ruskin is an eccentric genius, famed across Britain for his writings on art and philosophy. Haunted by a scandalous past and determined never to love again, the 39-year-old Ruskin becomes infatuated with his enigmatic young student, Rose La Touche, an obsession with profound consequences that will change the course of his life and work.
Prior to reading this book, I must admit, I didn’t know much about Ruskin. This spans about 20 years of his life so you get to learn a lot about this tortured genius of a man.
Lipkin manages to paint a clear picture of how Ruskin’s unhealthy obsession with Rose consumes his life down to the very bone. His relationship with Rose was frowned upon due to the big age gap between the two and also the fact she was a young child when he first met her. This would normally make me feel a bit uncomfortable reading about such a problematic relationship but nothing untoward ever happens between the pair. They just both enjoyed each others company and understood each other completely. You see as Rose gets older the feelings Ruskin had towards this young woman deepen.
I loved the character of Rose. She was also fighting a lot of inner demons and had her mother dictating her life and controlling her. She obviously had serious mental health issues and by having a mother who wouldn’t let Rose live how she wanted to results in tragic consequences.
The research that Lipkin has carried out is phenomenal. She is able to pass on so much knowledge and describe the complex personality of Ruskin showing his good and bad sides equally. She also writes the story in the style of an old classic which makes it such a joy to read and a feast for your eyes to experience such beautiful writing.
The novel is full of love, loss, passion, pain and tragedy. I highly recommend this to lovers of historical fiction and art. It is a beautifully written masterpiece that is a pure delight to read.
Thank you to Rebecca Lipkin for sending me her brilliant book.
About The Author
Rebecca Lipkin is the author of Unto This Last, a biographical novel about the famed 19th century art critic John Ruskin, who falls in love with his beautiful young Irish student, Rose La Touche, with devastating consequences.