|The Somnambulist by Millais (1871)|
Told from the point of view of Phoebe Turner, a young lady of modest means, this is a tale of devotion, deception and redemption. In a household torn in two between the performing arts and religion, between aunt and mother, Phoebe isn't entirely sure who she is or who she wants to become -- and a number of things will push her in many different ways before she becomes a woman with her own mind and heart.
Though I was never entirely sympathetic to Phoebe, her story was compelling and I enjoyed this story. As I said before, I was a bit surprised by some hot and steamy scenes but only because of my own expectations for this novel. There's also a strong thread of anti-Semitism through the novel, something that readers of Victorian novels will be familiar with, though perhaps not to the extent that it is explored in this book. There is also a bit of the supernatural in the story -- just enough to add some flavor and to cause the reader to question Phoebe's reliability as a narrator (and her mental health). All of these elements are put together very well and I hope that Essie Fox has another book in the works.