Gordon succeeds in showing not only the pain but "the possibilities of the outsider" . While distinctive in their voices, these writers converge "in their hatred of our violent world", exposing domestic and systemic violence. Their strength of spirit shines from the pages and through the ages
Lyndall Gordon's empathetic commitment to the unfolding story in the lives of literary figures is central to her work
Gordon rallies the reader to look to these five as the trailblazers and inspiration for our own lives.
Gordon is a natural storyteller, and the lives stir us and fascinate us no matter how well we already know them . . . full of novelistic insight, pushing into the biographical material to substantiate her hunches, tracing patterns and repetitions in these writers' emotional lives and in their work
Impeccably researched . . . an excellent read
Gordon's book is a pertinent reminder of the risks each of them bravely faced in order to save themselves from the fate of a Maggie Tulliver or a Judith Shakespeare and leave posterity with their remarkable works
Thought-provoking . . . enticing
In subtle and elegant interpretations, Gordon allows us to see their novels 'afresh'. The pattern she traces in their writing is equally striking: each woman refused, as Gordon puts it, 'to make terms with our violent world', and this is what makes their voices so modern . . . She is a biographer of the imagination as opposed to a recorder of historical facts.
The work and lives of Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf are well known. Gordon's thesis sets out just how original and brave they were - and at what cost. We owe them much