The World Before Her

Deborah Weisgall, Author . Houghton Mifflin $25 (278p) ISBN 978-0-618-74657-6

Two women in Venice, separated by a century, search for love and identity in the latest from novelist (Still Point ) and memoirist (A Joyful Noise ) Weisgall. It opens as Marian Evans—aka Mary Ann Evans, aka the novelist George Eliot (1819–1880)—is on her 1880 honeymoon in Venice with Johnnie Cross, who is 20 years her junior. Evans is trying, after a long and scandalous love affair with fellow author George Lewes, to have a normal marriage. One hundred years later, in the same city, Caroline Spingold travels with her husband, Malcolm, on his business trip aimed at revitalizing the Venetian economy. Caroline is a sculptor with a childhood history in Venice, financially supported by Malcolm, who is 20 years her senior. Malcolm does not share many of Caroline's perceptions, and she grows increasingly weary of her stale marriage. Weisgall shares the stories of Marian and Caroline in alternating chapters, sensitively developing their similarities in artistic and sexual ambition. Both face the deaths of men from their pasts, making love to their memories while their current partners struggle to beautify their lives and aid them in their work. Weisgall's well-researched historical fiction is dense, romantic and provocative. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/03/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Paperback - 278 pages - 978-0-547-23796-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-547-52489-4
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