Nell Stevens at the Brookline Booksmith

NellBookNell Stevens (Fiction ’13) will be reading from her latest book, The Victorian and the Romantic, at the Brookline Booksmith next Tuesday (8/7) at 7 pm!  All are welcome.  A historical memoir, this unique  book weaves two love stories together across time.  Chapters alternate between Elizabeth Gaskell’s romance with the American critic Charles Eliot Norton and Nell’s own relationship with Max, a soulful American screenwriter.  Described as moving, witty, and impossible to put down, The Victorian and the Romantic celebrates one writer’s deep friendship with a fellow writer who lived over a century ago.

Here, Nell recommends a couple books and talks with us about her reading and writing life.

What is your favorite book by Elizabeth Gaskell?
Lois the Witch.  It’s a historical novella about a young English girl traveling to Salem in 1691 who gets executed for witchcraft during the witch trials. Gaskell never went to America and was constantly imagining it: this story is dark and vivid and strange, in part because America for Gaskell was always a dreamscape rather than a “real” place. Gaskell has a reputation for being both cuddly and a bit preachy, so I like to remind people that she also wrote macabre gothic tales.

Which book have you particularly enjoyed recently?
I absolutely loved Sigrid Nunez’s new novel The Friend and have struggled to think about anything else since reading it. I couldn’t help wonder/(worry?) how much the references to the narrator’s students were inspired by us…

How have you been spending your time this summer?
I teach creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, but I’m in the US at present doing publicity for the new book. I just spent a month at MacDowell, working on my ever-elusive first novel.

Do you have any writing rituals?
I’m learning that I really don’t have any. I still can’t predict what will make for good writing conditions for me, so I’m trying to accept that when it works, it works, but that most of the time it won’t, and that’s ok.

Thanks so much, Nell, and congratulations!  We look forward to seeing you at the Booksmith next week.

Nell Stevens has a degree in English and creative writing from the University of Warwick, an MFA in fiction from Boston University, and a PhD in Victorian literature from King’s College London. She is the author of the memoir Bleaker House and is at work on a novel.

Post a Comment

Your email address is never shared. Required fields are marked *