Lodger Hardcover – 14 Oct 2014
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The Lodger" is an evocative, beautifully written first novel. Set against the backdrop of the early 20th century, Louisa Treger conjures up her characters and the turbulence of an era when women were fighting for emancipation with conviction. Dorothy Richardson's journey to finding her own literary feet through her illicit relationship with the novelist HG Wells is moving and revealing. A very accomplished debut novel." --New York Times
"A gripping debut about creativity, forbidden passions and what happens when you break the rules. Dorothy Richardson is a heroine for our time."-- --Daisy Goodwin
About the Author
LOUISA TREGER, a classical violinist, studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. She subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early-twentieth-century women's writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship "for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature." "The Lodger" is her first novel.
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Louisa Treger's greatest skill lies in setting out the intensity of Dorothy's internal world. Her thoughts are laid bare to the reader in a way that is extremely intimate. We see all her petty jealousies, her longings, her frustrations and her joys, and we love her for it. There is an authenticity to Dorothy's character that is irresistible, and that is down to Treger's skill. Her prose is rich and beguiling, yet there is a lightness to it. Her descriptions are wonderful, and the minor characters that move through Dorothy's life, from her motherly yet pitiful landlady to her earnest Russian suitor, are each deftly drawn with a detail that makes them leap off the page.
The Lodger is also a love letter to the freedom. Dorothy's entanglements, each in their own way, stifle and oppress her. Her friend Veronica fights for the vote (never have I read the experience of force feeding more potently and movingly described) alongside fellow suffragettes. Dorothy is bound by her dependence on Bertie, by pregnancy, by her own poverty, by guilt attached to her mother's death, and by fear that she lacks the skill to follow her own desire to write. The Lodger is the story of her search for freedom and self-reliance. It is a beautiful book.
When the book opens in 1906 she is living in near poverty in London, working as a dentist's secretary and living in an attic room in lodgings. In spite of this hardship she has the most refreshing attitude to the freedom of her life. She glories in her long walks around London and in her ideas about people. She resists two marriage proposals both of which offered her a way out of poverty and struggle: 'But she couldn't get married just to stop being tired.'
She starts an affair with the married writer H G Wells and this has a huge influence on her and eventually starts her on the road to writing her own novels. The more I read this book the more I found myself admiring Dorothy's courage, her strength of purpose and her lack of bitterness. She has very low and vulnerable moments too which are portrayed vividly.
Dorothy Richardson was a real person and Louisa Treger has done a brilliant job in mingling fact and fiction. The tone of voice of the book felt so right and you get a real feeling of how it felt to be a woman living at that time.