Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Unto This Last by Rebecca Lipkin.
Rebecca Lipkin revives the Victorian classic with the controversial story of John Ruskin and Rose La Touche in her debut historical fiction novel.
London, 1858. Passionate, contradictory, and fiercely loyal to his friends, John Ruskin is an eccentric genius, famed across Britain for his writings on art and philosophy. Haunted by a scandalous past and determined never to love again, the 39-year-old Ruskin becomes infatuated with his enigmatic young student, Rose La Touche, an obsession with profound consequences that will change the course of his life and work.
Written in a style recalling Victorian literature and spanning a period of twenty years, the story poses questions about the nature of love, the boundaries of parenthood, and compatibility in marriage. Unto This Last is a portrait of Ruskin’s tormented psyche and reveals a complex and misunderstood soul, longing for a life just out of reach.
Oh but this is wonderful. It paints a wonderful portrait of Ruskin, his complex nature and the time in which he lived.
As a book blogger, it can be rather daunting to receive a book that is close to 700 pages in length. I hasten to add that the writing and subject matter was utterly entrancing and not one page of it felt a chore.
I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis. John Ruskin and the Victorian society in which he lived has always held a special fascination for me. This fictional telling of real events is meticulously researched giving a fascinating and rich story that takes you back in time. I felt a little closer to the man in question and was introduced to sides of him that I had never before realised. He came to life before my very eyes and seemed a man way ahead of his time. And what a colourful life he lived. The story is vast, at times sad but not once did I feel it a struggle to read. It was a pleasure to return to.
This is a wonderful novel that will provide a welcome escape from cold, dark nights. Through it’s pages I was visited by a host of characters that I have only ever known through historical study and visits to places of the National Trust. Yet through Rebecca’s novel, I too was able to rub shoulders with the likes of Oscar Wilde, Thomas Carlyle and of course Effie Gray.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the publisher for sending me the gorgeous review copy. This is one novel that will stay firmly on my bookshelves, coming out only for a revisit whenever I want to return to it. It holds so much that I feel each new reading will bring something new.
About the author
Rebecca Lipkin has had a passion for Victorian art and literature from a young age. She first discovered John Ruskin through E.M. Forster’s novel, A Room with a View, and later joined the Ruskin Society at the age of seventeen to learn more about Ruskin’s work. Rebecca pursued a career in journalism, specialising in arts writing and theatre reviews, and has worked for a number of national publications. Rebecca says, “Most accounts of John Ruskin’s complex personal life focus on his brief marriage to Effie Gray, but his twenty-year relationship with Rose La Touche was of huge importance to the evolution of his thinking; it is a captivating and tragic story of two people whose loving friendship transcended boundaries and conventions to the very end.