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Nineteen-year old Annabella Milbanke, visiting London for the swirl of parties and engagements of the season, is introduced to Byron at a waltz. He has just published "Childe Harold", and is surrounded by a crowd of admirers, one of whom is his half-sister Augusta Leigh. Annabella and Byron fall in love, but Augusta's unwelcome presence in their relationship becomes increasingly unbearable. Caught up in a potentially scandalous love triangle, Annabella must decide whether following her heart is the most dangerous thing she has ever done...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780571233359
ISBN-10: 057123335X
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 126mm x 21mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publish Date: 25-Dec-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Byron's life is revisited in a stylized fictional portrait that focuses less on the brilliant poet, more on the impossible husband.Markovits (Imposture, 2007, etc.) shifts his scrutiny to Annabella Milbanke, Byron's wife. How the perceptive 19-year-old, who has turned down five proposals and is blessed with youth, beauty and "an unimpeachable goodness," comes to accept an approach from the newly famous author of Childe Harold, reputedly having an affair with Lady Caroline Lamb, is lengthily recorded in debates about propriety, virtue, vanity and morality among Annabella's friends, family and high-born confidantes. Once married and on honeymoon, Annabella finds herself more dependent on and less loved by her husband than she had expected, as well as shocked by his unhappiness, cruelty, debts and drinking. Worse is to follow during a visit to Augusta Leigh, Byron's half sister, when Annabella comes to realize that an "unspeakable" (i.e. incestuous) relationship likely exists between the two. Despite her revulsion, she continues to try to be the best wife she can and a sister to Augusta, but after the birth of Byron and Annabella's daughter, she leaves to visit her parents, reports the "menaces, furies, neglect and infidelities" she has suffered and files for separation. With gossip swirling, she later devotes herself to saving Augusta from ruin, a decision which eventually contributes to the burning of Byron's memoirs.Markovits's delicate, painstaking, psychologically and socially acute examination of Byron's women can seem overwhelmed by its length and stylistic devotion. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Benjamin Markovits

Benjamin Markovits has written three previous novels, The Syme Papers, Either Side of Winter and Imposture. Originally from Texas, he now lives in London and writes for the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement.

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