Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World Hardcover – March 14, 2017
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"One of the most original, entertaining, and thought-provoking books I have ever read about the difficulty of writing a book."
—Rebecca Mead, NewYorker.com
“There’s something alluringly Victorian about the whole book . . . In our increasingly small and connected world, narratives that tackle the peculiar senses of loneliness and remove, and the effects they have on the self, are increasingly rare . . . Bleaker House never devolves into a stunt book. Instead, Stevens charts a path of personal and professional exploration tinged with both sadness and humor.”
“It’s not only her fellow writers who will be captivated by Stevens’ meditative, engagingly comic reflection on the three months she spent on the Falklands’ Bleaker Island working on a literary novel inspired by Charles Dickens . . . Stevens discovers not just the pains and pleasures of the artistic process, but the power of leaving one’s life behind for the sake of self-discovery.”
“An inventive memoir about a young writer’s struggle to find her literary footing.”
“A whimsical, good-humored, yearning-filled, thought-provoking read.”
“Bleaker House is so riveting and so much fun to read, I would have loved it even if it hadn’t also been innovative and brilliant. Nell Stevens is an excellent writer, as well as great company, and I can’t wait to read every book she writes.”
—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Blue Plate Special
“Fresh and spirited . . . A delightful literary debut.”
“Quirky and engaging . . . A captivating portrait of the creative life.”
“Nell Stevens takes you on a wild ramble across the landscape of the writing life, and at the end sets you down somewhere entirely new and unexpected. This is a romp of a book, a genre-defying feat of the imagination, and pure pleasure to read.”
—Alison Pick, author of Far to Go and Between Gods
“Hilarious and original, charming and engaging. I loved it.”
—Rebecca Wait, author of The Followers and The View on the Way Down
“I read Bleaker House in a gulp. It's a charming read whose first third has a laugh a page before Nell’s odyssey turns into something more serious. You can't, just by attending writing school, learn how to produce fine writing. This clever and funny book shows you may also want to get out and experience the world, and yourself.”
—Dan Boothby, author of Island of Dreams
About the Author
NELL STEVENS has a degree in English and creative writing from the University of Warwick, an MFA in fiction from Boston University, and a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book is an odd but appealing join: it’s part memoir, part travel book and part fiction, and it is inspired by Dickens’s very odd but masterly novel, Bleak House. Stevens’ book narrates her trip to the Falkland Islands, located off the southernmost tip of South America, and in particular her six-week stay on Bleaker Island (serendipitous name!), a desolate pile of rocks and dirt eight miles square, inhabited during her stay in the winter (winters aren’t nice down there), aside from Nell, by only the occasional sea lion or seal, about a thousand sheep and several cows, a colony of gentoo penguins and countless other birds, including one large aggressive raptor called the caracara (it’s characterized on the website allaboutbirds as “a tropical falcon version of a vulture”). There are no trees. The wind blows. A lot. And if lack of sunlight affects your moods, prepare for mood swings.
She went there on a grant, her hope that the enforced solitude and straitened regimen would force her to be the novelist she aspired to be. All told, she had bought herself three months of being on her own: during that time, she must write 90,000 words (rough draft –she’d revise later- only 2500 words a day). She had to carry her food with her for the entire stay: money and freight weight limits meant that she’d live on 1,000 some calories a day. In seemingly disjointed order, this memoir tells what happened to her there and what it taught her –about herself and about writing. It spins out –tumbles out at points—in chapters on her life on the island, her life before arriving there, about an old boyfriend she finally left and what that incident said about her ability to connect, the advice of her writing teacher at Boston U. (the great Leslie Epstein) and scattered chapters from the novel she never finished, which paralleled some of the tropes of Victorian fiction but set on Bleaker Island.
The result is a book that will not appeal to everyone but that I enjoyed quite a bit. I have been trying myself to find ways to write my experience not sequentially but with tangential connections, and that’s what she does here. If you’re looking for a travel book, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a finished novel, no again. But if you want to follow along as a young writer, with a strong vein of whimsy included in her makeup, find herself, this may be your cup of tea.
I loved her descriptions of the Islands, I hated her lack of knowledge of the islands. A bright person, with scholarships to her name but never dealt with the reality of life on the Falklands I find mystifying. Her lack of preparation/research for her "adventure " is amazing. Her hardships are of her own making and I thank the kind and generous Falklanders for doing what they could to help her out.
I do applaud her for bringing all this disfunctionality together and getting a book out of it. It has certainly been a rollercoaster read, between the fiction and the non fiction, All I can say is, "Try it, you might like it."
Writers, and those interested in the writing life, will likely find more in this book than nature lovers. I felt the book lived up to the “Chasing My Novel” part of its subtitle, but the “to the End of the World” part was so minor it should not be in the subheading. Yes, it did happen in the Falklands, but from what Stevens appears to gain from her surroundings, it could very well have been the much closer Scottish islands instead. But, of course, that would have spoiled the "to the end of the world" gimmick. Perhaps to those who have never spent any time away from cities this book has more to offer along the “end of the world” theme.
I found the writing jumbled. The chapters are short and shift back and forth between the novel she was working on, memories from the past, and what is going on the present. It felt rather like reading a blog. Short bits of this and that. I did not enjoy the way sex was used – it seemed that it was there more for attention than for having something worthwhile to offer. Overall, the book came across as emotional but shallow.
Most recent customer reviews
I saw this book on a recommended list, and I really struggled with it.Read more