“Fascinating . . . The reader is treated to a revealing account of the passionate romance between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning through the eyes of an intimate observer.”—Booklist
Young and timid but full of sturdy good sense and awakening sophistication, Lily Wilson arrives in London in 1844, becoming a lady’s maid to the fragile, housebound Elizabeth Barrett. Lily is quickly drawn to her mistress’ s gaiety and sharp intelligence, the power of her poetry, and her deep emotional need. It is a strange intimacy that will last sixteen years.
It is Lily who smuggles Miss Barrett out of the gloomy Wimpole Street house, witnesses her secret wedding to Robert Browning in an empty church, and flees with them to threadbare lodgings and the heat, light, and colors of Italy. As housekeeper, nursemaid, companion, and confidante, Lily is with Elizabeth in every crisis–birth, bereavement, travel, literary triumph. As her devotion turns almost to obsession, Lily forgets her own fleeting loneliness. But when Lily’s own affairs take a dramatic turn, she comes to expect the loyalty from Elizabeth that she herself has always given.
Praise for Lady's Maid
“[A] wonderful novel . . . fully imagined and persuasive fiction.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Absorbing . . . heartbreaking . . . grips the reader's imagination on every page . . . [Margaret] Forster paints a vivid picture of class, station, hypocrisy and survival in Victorian society.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Extremely readable . . . The author's sense of the nineteenth century seems innate.”—The New Yorker
“Highly recommended . . . an engrossing novel of the colorful Browning ménage.”—Library Journal
“Delightful . . . entertaining.”—Vogue