The Honeymoon : A Novel of George Eliot
Dinitia Smith's spellbinding novel recounts George Eliot's honeymoon in Venice during June of 1880 following her marriage to a handsome young man twenty years her junior. When she agreed to marry John Walter Cross, Eliot was recovering from the death of George Henry Lewes, her beloved companion of twenty-six years who she considered her "husband" even though they were never legally married. All of her life she was driven by a need to love, and be loved, and she had found both those things with Lewes. When Lewes died, Eliot, bereft, was left at the age of sixty, contemplating the meaning of her existence without him, and was plagued by profound questions about the decline of her body, her sexuality, and of course, her own mortality.
Mary Ann Evans was an extremely plain young woman, a country girl, considered unmarriageable, who was forced to educate herself in order to secure her livelihood, and who became the most famous writer of her time. Overthrowing conventional religion and finding her own code of ethics, she was very much a woman both of and ahead of her time. In THE HONEYMOON, Smith beautifully integrates what is known about Eliot's life and explores, through Eliot's story, the notion of different kinds of love, sexual and platonic, of the possibilities of redemption and of happiness even in the midst of an imperfect union.