Historical novels take a specific aspect of a person’s life and craft a story around the inner details that are often lost to history. This month, the Ladies Who Brunch discussed The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith.
The novel explores different kinds of love, redemption, and happiness in an imperfect marriage. This book is based on the life of Mary Ann Evans, who, under her famed pen name George Eliot, wrote Middlemarch. Smith recounts Eliot’s honeymoon in Venice in 1880 following her marriage to John Walter Cross, a man 20 years her junior. The most shocking part of this tale is that she is considered too plain to marry.
Mary Ann’s “plainness” isn’t the sole imperfection in the novel: other characters in the novel also experience some kind of deficiency. Mary Ann’s insecurity finds its basis in her perceived lack of physical beauty that results in her own dependency, insecurity, and neediness. What’s worse, she only feels good if a man makes her feel worthy.
John Cross, meanwhile, grapples with his own possible homosexuality based on his interest in Willie. John must confront the question whether there is a spark between husband and wife at all.
The author of this novel, which is so rich in themes, ideas, and complex characters, sat down with the group to discuss her writing and the novel. She went into great detail about her research and travels to different locations to develop the backgrounds of her novels.
Rachel Slaiman is a published freelance writer of several articles in both print and online as well an editor and copy editor of aspiring author’s manuscripts. She is currently the co-recording secretary for the WNBA and co-chair for the Brooklyn Book Festival. Rachel holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.S. from Pace University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing short stories.