AA tender and engrossing historical novel about the unlikely love affair between two great 19th-century poets, Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett.
On a bleak January day in 1845, a poet who had been confined to her room for four years by recurrent illness received a letter from a writer she secretly idolized but had never seen. “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,” Robert Browning wrote, “and I love you too.”
Elizabeth Barrett was ecstatic. She was famous for her poetry but completely cut off from the kind of international travel that Browning used to fuel his obscure, unsuccessful, innovative poems, one of which was written from a murderer’s point of view. They began an affectionate correspondence, but Elizabeth kept delaying a visit. What would happen when he saw her in person? What was Robert really like? Could she persuade her father and brothers that he was honorable, even though she had never met his family? And what would happen if she gave in to Robert’s wild proposal that they go to Italy and see if the sun could cure her?
McNeal brilliantly tells the story of how Robert and Elizabeth fell in love with each other’s words and shocked her conservative, close-knit family and the literary world. Sensitively and lyrically written, as rich as the lovers' own poetry, The Swan's Nest will sweep up readers in the triumphant story of two people forced to choose between a safe, stable life and the love they felt for each other.