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ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529410716

Price: £18.99

ON SALE: 14th April 2022

Genre: Fiction & Related Items

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‘Does art enhance life, or negate it? The painful question runs through Lowry’s portrait of Thomas Hardy, and produces a sombre, delicate novel, finely judged and full of insight’ Hilary Mantel


One Wednesday morning in November 1912 the ageing Thomas Hardy, entombed by paper and books and increasingly estranged from his wife Emma, finds her dying in her bedroom. Between his speaking to her and taking her in his arms, she has gone.

The day before, he and Emma had exchanged bitter words – leading Hardy to wonder whether all husbands and wives end up as enemies to each other. His family and Florence Dugdale, the much younger woman with whom he has been in a relationship, assume that he will be happy and relieved to be set free. But he is left shattered by the loss.

Hardy’s bewilderment only increases when, sorting through Emma’s effects, he comes across a set of diaries that she had secretly kept about their life together, ominously titled ‘What I Think of My Husband’. He discovers what Emma had truly felt – that he had been cold, remote and incapable of ordinary human affection, and had kept her childless, a virtual prisoner for forty years. Why did they ever marry?

He is consumed by something worse than grief: a chaos in which all his certainties have been obliterated. He has to re-evaluate himself, and reimagine his unhappy wife as she was when they first met.

Hardy’s pained reflections on the choices he has made, and must now make, form a unique combination of love story and ghost story, by turns tender, surprising, comic and true. The Chosen – the extraordinary new novel by Elizabeth Lowry – hauntingly searches the unknowable spaces between man and wife; memory and regret; life and art.

Reviews

Does art enhance life, or negate it? The painful question runs through Lowry's portrait of Thomas Hardy, and produces a sombre, delicate novel, finely judged and full of insight
Hilary Mantel
In The Chosen, Lowry conjures the torments of a writer's life wonderfully. It is full of understanding, shrewd and often lyrical - a thing of beauty and sadness.
Alison Light, author of Mrs Woolf & the Servants
Elizabeth Lowry writes like a dream; finely attuned to the hopes, desires and secret hauntings of her characters, she brings them to life like no other writer I know. Every new book from Lowry is a rare treat, best devoured slowly.
Marina Benjamin
'[A] novel which is both a fascinating analysis of Hardy and a powerful and exquisite work of art in its own right . . . her writing is utterly without mercy while also being underpinned by deep compassion . . . Lowry's view of marriage and, more particularly, the creative life is almost unbearably bleak, but her novel is glorious - the best that I have read in several years.
Alice Jolly, Literary Review
Hardy's doomed first marriage is the subject of this beautifully rendered and poignant novel . . . The prose is exquisite . . . Above all, like many of the best novelists, Lowry understands the intricacies of the human heart.
The Times
In this exquisite imagining of the days after Emma's unexpected death, The ­Chosen excavates Hardy's emotions . . . Felled by the bitterness in her diaries . . .Hardy experiences 'a savage sense of liberty' and overwhelming feelings of loss, beautifully described in Lowry's bellclear, silvery prose.
Daily Mail
This novel is exquisitely written and powerfully perceptive, yet never loses sight of its biographical nature.
Country Life
Deserves to be read by anyone interested in Thomas Hardy or in good literature.
Sherborne Times
It's a remarkable, mesmeric piece of writing . . . an authentic cri de coeur from a deeply reserved man. There are utterly remarkable passages in The Chosen where something shifts, time seems to alter and language starts to glow. It's rare and quite extraordinary. It feels as though two levels of language like two currents of different salinity are flowing across each other - the sensation is one of looking through the 3rd person narration into Hardy's innermost lived experience, and through or behind those the further layer of the poems themselves, still fluid, in formation in the mind.
Andrew Greig, author of Rose Nicolson
A stylistic tour de force . . . Miss this work of art -- and cautionary tale against long-term gaslighting -- at your peril.
Strong Words
The Chosen combines psychological depth with prose of mesmerising beauty. The result is an exquisite double portrait of a marriage and a writer, and the elusively complex relationship between the two. This is a novel of tremendous range, from the elegiac to the humorous to the sublime. Vladimir Nabokov described the best of fiction as "a game of intricate enchantment and deception". In this heartbreaking, life-affirming exploration of the perversity of the human heart and the paradox of creativity, Elizabeth Lowry shows herself the mistress of both.
Financial Times
With remarkable steadiness and fine judgment, Elizabeth Lowry goes right into the midst of this legendary literary maelstrom and opens a space for fiction . . . Slowly and feelingly, the novel pores over questions about the costs of art, refusing to shout out answers, letting many perspectives tell upon each other . . . Where Poems of 1912-13 intensify around single visions, utterly concentrated, The Chosen works by looking around at everything going on in the house. Max Gate is vividly realised in all its tree-shadowed gloominess, gobbling coal and effort, too large yet grimly confining.
Guardian