March 2017 Book of the Month | In a nutshell: beautiful young maid catches the eye of the Pre-Raphaelites | Mary leads a Cinderella life: by day she’s blacking grates as the most junior servant in her household, but in secret she’s also sitting for a handsome, talented young artist; with her flame-red hair, so loved by the Pre-Raphaelites, Mary is his muse. In a story filled with glamour and excitement, Bennett paints her own portrait of 1850s London, its fusty interiors and filthy streets, describing Victorian clothes – her own passion - in particularly wonderful detail. It’s certainly not all glamour for Mary and Bennett shows readers how hard it was for poor young women, no matter how beautiful, to control their lives, and how easy it was for them to fall into poverty. It makes for heady, absorbing reading; fans will want to know what happens to Mary next, and may well be inspired to seek out Pre-Raphaelite paintings, and Millais’s Ophelia in particular.
Sophia says: “Since my teens I’ve been in love with fine art, and the creative geniuses who broke the rules to change the way we see the world. No one broke the rules quite like the Pre-Raphaelites, or portrayed their muses with such obsession and intensity. Persephone Lavelle wants to be one of the ‘stunners’ to take Victorian society by storm. My heroines are never mere muses, so Persephone has a lot of adventures in store and the personality to match.”