Dorothy Richardson is existing just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist's office and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane has recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame.Read more...
Dorothy Richardson is existing just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist's office and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane has recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie, as they call him.
Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signaling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy can tell her friend would not be happy with that arrangement.
Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house beautiful Veronica Leslie-Jones and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of a militant suffragette march, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.
Louisa Treger's" The Lodger" is a beautifully intimate novel that is at once an introduction to one of the most important writers of the 20th century and a compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-01
- Reviewer: Staff
In this intriguing blend of fact and fiction, Treger’s debut novel explores the socially unacceptable loves of little-read author Dorothy Richardson in early 20th-century London. Still haunted by guilt over her mother’s suicide, Dorothy lives in a shabby boarding house at the seedy edge of Bloomsbury, barely supporting herself as a dentist’s assistant. In 1906, she meets and succumbs to the intelligence, eloquence, and admiration of H.G. Wells, the husband of an old school friend. Initially repelled by Wells’s scientific certainty and hesitant to betray her friend, Dorothy nevertheless capitulates to his sexual and literary urgings. The varied responses of her well drawn landlady, Mrs. Baker, and fellow boarders—Russian Jewish émigré Benjamin, Canadian Dr. Weber, and suffragette Veronica Leslie-Jones—both clarify and complicate Dorothy’s life. While deftly examining moods ranging from exhilaration to sexual longing to despair to shame, Treger uses Dorothy’s increasing confidence as a writer and eventual ability to “banish her narrator entirely”—that is, those narrative conventions of the day that she was convinced were “simply an expression of the vision, fantasies, and experiences of men”—as a metaphor for Dorothy’s emotional growth and discovery of her “inmost self.” Readers familiar with the period will recognize echoes of Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton in Dorothy’s views. (Oct.)