Set in Victorian times, this is the story of three intimately
intertwined lives, those of Isabelle and Eldon Dashwood and their
maid, Annie. Isabelle is a free spirit, an emancipated, pioneering
Victorian lady, a pre-modernist who dreams of becoming a great
photographer, breaking away from the constraints of
representational art. She wants to capture the fleeting image of
life itself but feels trapped into using cultural icons that are
useless and irrelevant. Her husband, Eldon, wanted to be an
explorer. He suffered from ill health and now dreams of being a
famous cartographer, of mapping out the boundaries of the known
world and inventing the unknown. Into their isolation comes Annie,
whom both Eldon and Isabelle grow to need and love. She is an Irish
orphan raised in servitude who since childhood has developed a
passion for the written word and consumes everything she can lay
her hands on. She possesses a rare intelligence and understanding
which, under the influence of the uniquely free relationship
offerred by the Dashwoods, is slowly awakened to the possibility
that she can change the circumstances of her own life; that she too
can dream. Restrained sensuality battles with intellectual yearning
in all three lives, creating a profoundly moving story. The novel
lingers over frozen images like the photographer's lens, then
overlays them with indistinct impressions so that the fluidity of
emotional experience is felt as an ever-changing quality rather
than a fixed meaning. It is rare to read such an intelligent novel
which instructs, educates and explores new ways of seeing the world
around us, all at the same time. Highly recommended. (Kirkus UK)
Explores the search for identity and meaning, and captures the
tension between the yearnings and the sexuality of the Victorian
age. Annie arrives at a wealthy house to work as a maid. Used to
the labour of servitude, she soon finds herself drawn into a world
where dreams are possible.
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