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Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais Paperback – 19 Apr 2012
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'Effie Gray's story is extraordinary and Cooper feasts upon it with appetite...I cannot recommend Fagence Cooper's biography of Effie Gray more highly to anyone with a heart, a liking for a good read and an interest in things Victorian.' --Henrietta Garnett, The Literary Review
At last Effie Millais has been given her voice and it is a marvellous one... I couldn't put it down.' --Linda Lear, author of Beatrix Potter
'This is an exceptional book about an exceptional trio and the exceptional families that formed them.' --The Scotsman
About the Author
Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper is the author of the Victorian Woman and Pre-Raphaelite Art in the V&A Museum. Her knowledge of Victorian art has led to her appearing on a number of television programmes on BBC2 and Channel 4. She lives in Yorkshire with her husband and two daughters.
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Top customer reviews
This is one of the most interesting, emotional (many parts moved me nearly to tears, which is unusual) and in depth books that I have ever read, and if you enjoy reading of this historical period (1800's), and the social constraints of women of the age, then this book will give you all the tragedy, strength, passion, frustration and personal 'issues' suffered by all involved, to keep you entranced for hours. It also gives a balanced humanity to John Ruskin, who is shown as a troubled soul, and we can begin to understand the reasons for much of his strange and somewhat callous and self-serving behaviour towards Effie Gray.
I am most thankful that during that period, many letters were written, preserved and shared with us. I Would urge you to buy and indulge yourself with this wonderful book. (The film is really good also, but the book is amazingly so). You will probably end up feeling as though you knew them all personally by the time you finish it. It also has a beautifully flowing style, so is a real pleasure to read.
A year after the annulment, Effie married Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais, who had been an ardent admirer of Effie's and had been on friendly terms with both Effie and John Ruskin during their marriage. In fact, it has been suggested that Ruskin tried to encourage Millais and Effie towards an intimacy that would solve Ruskin's problem of being unwilling or unable to consummate his marriage - but speculation aside, Ruskin soon disappears from Suzanne Fagence Cooper's story, as her focus is now on Effie and on her life after Ruskin. And there is a lot more of Effie's life to learn about as we follow the four decades of her marriage to Millais, and although there were some difficult and some sad times ahead, their life together was a full and productive one, with Effie (when she was not pregnant or recovering from the births of their eight children) organizing the social and business side of their life, running the house, keeping accounts and hosting parties where she helped to promote commissions for Millais' art. However, I shall leave the remainder of Effie's story for prospective purchasers to read about for themselves, and there is a lot more to her story than I have revealed in this review.
As commented in my opening paragraph, this is a well-researched biography - the author had access to a large amount of previously unseen correspondence and was able to use this information, along with additional research, to assist her in writing an involving and interesting account of a woman who was not prepared to accept a passionless and childless marriage, and who risked censure and ostracism in order to live a full and productive life. In fact, although many friends and acquaintances in the Millais' circle, sympathised and supported them in their endeavours, the taint of Effie's annulment never entirely went away, and it was decades before Effie was finally received into Queen Victoria's presence, despite Millais becoming a baronet. Interestingly, Suzanne Fagence takes care to show Effie's story as part of wider shift in women's roles and expectations and her vivid biography which, in places, reads almost like a novel, is full of information which allows the reader to "walk with Effie and observe sixty years of Victorian life through her eyes." Recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
Having recently visited Brantwood - John Ruskin's home in the Lake District, I was keen to learn more about him and this film certainly gave me...Read more