The Victorian and the Romantic by Nell Stevens.  So many memoirs these days seek uniqueness by bringing two unlikely things together. Here, a fictionalized love affair between Victorian novelist, Mrs. Gaskell, and American writer, Charles Elliot Norton, is paired with the author’s mysterious, on-again, off-again relationship with Max, her present-day lover. Amazingly, Stevens pulls this off very well, with fiction (about Gaskell) that feels real and memoir sections that have all the drama of fiction.  I read it because a reviewer claimed it rivaled My Life in Middlemarch, as the remarkable expression of a reader’s love for a particular writer. And so it does.

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