I picked this up from the book exchange at Floreat Forum and then it languished on the ‘tbr’ shelf for sometime. Then I came across a free audible version, so I listened to it.
Here’s the blurb …
Marian Evans is a scandalous figure, living in sin with a married man, George Henry Lewes. She has shocked polite society, and women rarely deign to visit her. In secret, though, she has begun writing fiction under the pseudonym George Eliot. As Adam Bede’s fame grows, curiosity rises as to the identity of its mysterious writer. Gradually it becomes apparent that the moral genius Eliot is none other than the disgraced woman living with Lewes.
Now Evans’ tremendous celebrity begins. The world falls in love with her. She is the wise and great writer, sent to guide people through the increasingly secular, rudderless century, and an icon to her progressive feminist peers — with whom she is often in disagreement. Public opinion shifts. Her scandalous cohabitation is forgiven. But this idyll is not secure and cannot last. When Lewes dies, Evans finds herself in danger of shocking the world all over again.
Meanwhile, in another rudderless century, two women compete to arrive at an interpretation of Eliot as writer and as woman …
Everyone who has thrilled at being shown the world anew by George Eliot will thrill again at her presence, complex and compelling, here.
This book had a very interesting structure. It has two different time periods, George Eliot’s time and a contemporary time. For the sections set in George Eliot’s time, the author has used letters and diaries and then fleshed out the story. In the modern section, we have a George Eliot scholar writing a novel about George Eliot. It’s fascinating. I have read a biography of George Eliot (for My Victorian Literary study group), so I knew the bare bones of her story, but I enjoyed this fleshing out of her character (and the other characters like George Lewes, etc). There are a few echoes in the modern story to Eliot’s story, but I won’t give anything away.