My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I came to this book fresh off the BBC series, Desperate Romantics, on the Pre-Raphaelites. The mini-series wove the period story around Elizabeth Siddal, John Ruskin and Annie ( a model for Holman Hunt). It surprised me and captivated me. I was left wanting more and thus set on a quest for a good novel set in that world. The novel that the series is based on: Franny Moyle’s factual book about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre-Raphaelites, did not catch me from the reviews, so I sought out another option.
I found Young PRB to fill only a bit of that gap. I really love the story that Ms. Lee brought to life. By the end I realized that it was more the history than her particular telling of the story that I was in love with.
The characters here, always came a little short of whole. The smaller roles were thin and at times without much life at all. That said, I appreciated the research done which ever-presently made the main characters more rich. Elizbeth Siddal and John Ruskin are almost not-present in her story. What Ms. Lee did really well was create the backstory of the artists. I was left with a much better sense of where they came from. I didn’t get the depth or perspective that I was hoping for.
I tore through pages to get to the scene that would sustain me. The scene that never came. While left still wanting more, I can honestly say I enjoyed my time with the characters in this novel.
I’m still not satisfied. Off to find another better novel set in this period. Do you have a recommendation? Please leave me a note!