From Publishers Weekly
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)
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*Starred Review* Weisgall’s first novel, Still Point (1990), took the reader into the world of a New York City ballet company, and this second one explores the parallel worlds of two marriages a century apart yet forever interwoven through the beauty of Venice. We first encounter Marian Evans Cross honeymooning in Venice. Marian led an unconventional life for the late Victorian era through her lengthy extramarital relationship with George Henry Lewes and publication of Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and Middlemarch under the pseudonym George Eliot. Now in 1880 she has gained respectability by marrying a younger man, John Cross, but has lost the spark of vitality and creativity that once was the hallmark of her life. A century later, sculptor Caroline Edgar Spingold returns reluctantly to Venice on a surprise tenth-anniversary trip planned by her husband, Malcolm. Caroline spent a golden summer in Venice with her parents 22 years before and then her life was torn apart by their divorce. Marian’s life will end unexpectedly without having attained great happiness or contentment in this relationship with Cross, while Caroline will emerge from the fog of complacency to achieve the happiness she sought as an artist and as a woman. A compelling novel of introspection, the story is enhanced by vivid attention to the artistic and literary detail in both the historical and contemporary settings. --Laurie Sundborg