Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press
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“A literate, thoughtful and passionate first novel . . .”
Dorothy Richardson falls into the orbit of author H. G. Wells through his wife Amy Catherine, her old schoolfriend. A writer on the cusp of fame, Wells’ cozy domestic life by the sea is an order of magnitude better than the one Dorothy lives in a dingy London boarding house. A single, intelligent woman in a poorly paid mundane job, Dorothy finds the attention Wells pays her flattering. When his affections become pressing Dorothy cannot help but fall for his charms, risking a scandal which would finish them both in the eyes of Edwardian society.
It’s not long before Dorothy wonders if Wells loves her for who she truly is, or is his self-centered deals of womanhood imprinting themselves on her forever? She has the example of Wells’ unconventional relationship with his wife before her. Dorothy sees how the once-sparkling and intelligent Amy Catherine – whom Wells insists on calling Jane – has become little more than his frightened, subservient housekeeper. A lesbian relationship with Veronica, fellow-lodger and ardent Suffragette, only adds to Dorothy’s sense of dislocation, yet it seems to point to who she really is. A family tragedy colored her early womanhood. Tragedy strikes again, throwing her life into flux. Dorothy must decide once and for all what her values are, and what kind of life she will lead. A literate, thoughtful and passionate first novel, Louisa Treger’s The Lodger takes the reader to the heart of a woman’s life as she struggles to find her identity in the turbulent world of early twentieth century England.
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews