web site hit counter Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and Millais [audiobook] - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and Millais [audiobook]

Availability: Ready to download

Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé, John Everett Millais, away on holiday, Effie and Millais fell in love. She would inspire some of Millais' most haunting images and embody Victorian society's fear Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé, John Everett Millais, away on holiday, Effie and Millais fell in love. She would inspire some of Millais' most haunting images and embody Victorian society's fears about female sexuality. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie's family letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind the scandalous love-triangle. Effie shows the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman who was intimately involved in the private and public lives of its two greatest figures.


Compare

Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé, John Everett Millais, away on holiday, Effie and Millais fell in love. She would inspire some of Millais' most haunting images and embody Victorian society's fear Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé, John Everett Millais, away on holiday, Effie and Millais fell in love. She would inspire some of Millais' most haunting images and embody Victorian society's fears about female sexuality. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie's family letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind the scandalous love-triangle. Effie shows the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman who was intimately involved in the private and public lives of its two greatest figures.

30 review for Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and Millais [audiobook]

  1. 5 out of 5

    ❀⊱RoryReads⊰❀

    Wow. I've always admired Pre-Raphaelite art and I'd heard a few things here and there about Effie Gray, the wife of painter John Everett Millais, but I had no idea that she'd been through so much grief with her first husband, the critic John Ruskin. Ruskin never consummated his marriage to Effie; he had a taste for slender young girls in early adolescence. "John Ruskin loved young girls, innocents on the verge of womanhood. He became enchanted with twelve-year-old Effie when she visited Herne Hil Wow. I've always admired Pre-Raphaelite art and I'd heard a few things here and there about Effie Gray, the wife of painter John Everett Millais, but I had no idea that she'd been through so much grief with her first husband, the critic John Ruskin. Ruskin never consummated his marriage to Effie; he had a taste for slender young girls in early adolescence. "John Ruskin loved young girls, innocents on the verge of womanhood. He became enchanted with twelve-year-old Effie when she visited Herne Hill in the late summer of 1840. The next time he saw her, John Ruskin felt she was 'very graceful but had lost something of her good looks'. After he had won her hand in 1847 and she was still only nineteen... Effie was too old to be truly desirable." The last girl he developed a crush on was just ten years old. Ruskin tried to make people believe the rift was all Effie's fault because she was mentally ill and that he had taken the blame for the failed marriage to spare her. Creepy Gaslighting Alert! Ruskin had been friends with John Everett Millais (Effie's new husband), and after this mess told Millias he wanted to remain friends. Millais naturally declined. This is a great story, well written and researched.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    A wonderfully written account of Effie Millais' life and a great depiction of what Victorian England must have been like. Suzanne Fagence Cooper writes a story using Effie's Letters to and from her family and friends, her and her husbands diaries. When I first picked up 'Effie' in Waterstones,I was expecting some great love affair-But it's more then that. It's the woman behind the two men she called husband. After finishing the book, I felt an acute sense that I knew Effie and I really felt for A wonderfully written account of Effie Millais' life and a great depiction of what Victorian England must have been like. Suzanne Fagence Cooper writes a story using Effie's Letters to and from her family and friends, her and her husbands diaries. When I first picked up 'Effie' in Waterstones,I was expecting some great love affair-But it's more then that. It's the woman behind the two men she called husband. After finishing the book, I felt an acute sense that I knew Effie and I really felt for her. I came away from the book feeling as if I had made a friend. Effie was probably one of the more influential woman of early victorian woman's rights. Effie, married to John Ruskin,a renowned art critic in the Victorian England as well as a man who refused to consummate his marriage. We are left in the dark sadly about why John Ruskin refused Effie-except by what Effie said and what Ruskin himself said. In a letter to her Father,George Gray,after five years of marriage and the catalyst of falling in Love with John Everett Millais,who's patron was Ruskin! Effie finally told her father about her unfortunate marriage and his apparent reasons for his rejection of her. "He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason... that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April." John Ruskin confirmed these in his statements at court: "It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it.'' His Disgust with Effie's person is unknown. Effie went through the undignified act of a virginity test. Effie passed,proving that Ruskin had not consummated his marriage and therefore it was not legally binding. Effie got her annulment. A year after the annulment, Effie married John Everett Millais. The Man who had made her want to be free in order to marry again, even though she was hesitant about entering into another marriage after the marriage she had just been through-a marriage she never fully got over. You would think the tale ends here, but no. Suzanne Fagence Copper takes us through Effie's entire life up until her death. We find out the fates of her children--The trails of Victorian England. Effie's life was not all sunshine and happiness after her second marriage. She was no longer accepted into Queen Victoria's Presence because of her annulment. Queen Victoria thought Effie should have kept her mouth shut! Even though Victoria's children still liked Effie and Everett. Her children and her parents and sisters were riddled with sickness and insanity. To go through this must have been hard and increases my view that Effie is in fact one of the strongest Victorian woman that I know of. Effie is my favorite but Georgiana Cavendish comes in second, as of now. One of the most romantic things that I have read of in a long while is the story of when Everett Millais was dieing in his deathbed,dieing of throat cancer,Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll went to visit the Millais and while she was there gave Millais message from the Queen, who wondered if there was anything she could do for him. John Everett could no longer speak due to the cancer and simply wrote ''Yes,let her receive my wife.'' To me that shows an enduring love, that even on his deathbed he thought only of her. People familiar with John Everett Millais work will have seen the portrait of thirteen year old Sophy Gray-Effie's Younger sister-simply titled 'Sophy Gray'. The painting is-Apparently-a sensual and ''knowing'' image which provoked questions of Millais relationship with his sister in law. There was a strong affection between the two, and it could have possibly lead to a mutual infatuation between them. However,I don't believe this due to the fact that there is not enough evidence and Effie, as well as Her parents did not seem to care about the friendship between the two-Letting him chaperone her. It is RUMORED that Effie had to send Sophy away because of concerns that she and Millais were growing too close. But the sisters remained close until the end of their lives and Effie often invited Sophy to stay with herself and Everett. My interpretation of the 'Sophy Gray' is of a girl coming into awareness of her beauty and her body. The knowing look is sort of like 'I know I'm hot.' And 13 year old Sophy Gray did-so much so that she tried to stay that way as she grew into a woman. She suffered from Anorexia nervosa. She refused to eat thinking she was to fat and became semi infertile(she later went on to become a mother of one.)-not having her ''monthly illnesses''. Basically Anorexia nervosa is the Victorian Version of today's anorexia. Suzanne goes into great detail about the treatments-which I found very interesting.I know that sounds weird but I have a obsession with knowing how 'insanity' was dealt with in the past as I have OCD and often wonder about past treatments. ANYWAY! Back on subject, BRILLIANT BOOK! I felt as if I walked away with a friend in the ending of the biography. A Beautifully written, well-researched biography which gives reader's a look into Victorian life.BLOODY GOOD SHOW, CHAPS! 5 STARS!!! NOW FOR SOME PICTURES!! Effie Gray John Everett Millais Mr and Mrs Millais and their daughters Effie jr and Mary Millais. Photograph was taken by Lewis Carroll John Ruskin The History of Effie,Ruskin and Millais has caught the attention of movie makers(:P) and there are now two movies that are coming out. Effie-Starring Dakota Fanning Untouched-Starring Keira Knightley Out of the two, I'm looking forward to ''Untouched'' starring Keira Knightley. Keira is my favourite actress out of the two and has some of Effie's facial features-very little but Dakota dosent have a lot either. Effie Gray and Keira Knightley Effie Grey And Dakota Fanning

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Just watched a movie based on this three characters, written by Emma Thompson. A look at the scandalous love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his teenage bride Effie Gray, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    This account is about three prominent people in Victorian England. Effie married a man who was abusive and refused to consummate their relationship. She sued for an annulment which was unheard of at the time. He was an up-and-coming art critic. She and one of her first husband's associates, a famous painter in his own right, fall in love, marry & have 8 children. The book explores these and other close relationships with a watchful eye. The book is also about what it was like to live in Victorian This account is about three prominent people in Victorian England. Effie married a man who was abusive and refused to consummate their relationship. She sued for an annulment which was unheard of at the time. He was an up-and-coming art critic. She and one of her first husband's associates, a famous painter in his own right, fall in love, marry & have 8 children. The book explores these and other close relationships with a watchful eye. The book is also about what it was like to live in Victorian society. I learned several important things. 1. The life of women at the time was repressed, oppressed, and only significant when associated with a man. 2. Most of these people suffered from ill health. Medicine was very backward. Most doctors prescribed behavioral treatments or other superstitious remedies that were ineffective. 3. Many suffered from mental illness (anorexia, depression, and anxiety) but these were often experienced and treated as body maladies. 4. Childbirth was dangerous. For example, Effie's mother had 17 pregnancy and lost 8 of them. Overall, the story was sad and made me glad I was born during a more enlightened time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I really enjoyed this book! The Pre-Raphaelites are one of my favorite periods of art, so I’m always glad to read a story related to them. Effie Gray was a beautiful educated young woman when she married art critic John Ruskin at age 19. Ruskin had become obsessed with her at age 12, but when he saw her on their wedding night, it was not what he had expected. I did some research on him after reading the book and it looks like he was not homosexual as some have suggested but may have been a pedop I really enjoyed this book! The Pre-Raphaelites are one of my favorite periods of art, so I’m always glad to read a story related to them. Effie Gray was a beautiful educated young woman when she married art critic John Ruskin at age 19. Ruskin had become obsessed with her at age 12, but when he saw her on their wedding night, it was not what he had expected. I did some research on him after reading the book and it looks like he was not homosexual as some have suggested but may have been a pedophile, although looking at child pornography was not illegal or considered dangerous during the Victorian Age. It can be linked through several of his relationships with young girls that he usually fell in love with them at a very young age, but was less interested once they got older. In any case, he did not consummate his marriage to Effie, even though they were married for 6 or 7 years. Effie wanted to get out of the marriage, and so filed for annulment and Ruskin was pronounced impotent. While she was married to Ruskin, she fell in love with Ruskin’s young protégé, John Everett Millais, whom she later married. This first half of the book was fascinating and very well-done. Although Ruskin is made to look like a crazy pervert and his parents come off rather creepy as well, I’m still very curious about his books as they sound fascinating. It seems that Effie did marry a very brilliant man, but one with almost no social skills. I rather think the author should’ve stopped the book at the halfway mark, but she decided to continue and talk about Effie and Millais’s (or Everett as he was known) marriage, their children, and Everett’s art career with and after the Pre-Raphaelites. There was a lot of talk calling Everett a sell-out after he left the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (or PRB), but I think he was ingenious. Unlike a lot of other artists of the period, he had to support himself and his wife and eight children, so he did whatever he had to do to survive and make money. So yes, his picture style naturally changes from the Medieval/detailed look of his earlier pictures to the more Aesthetic-looking pictures of his later career. Pretty much everyone knows who Millais is from one of his PRB paintings “Ophelia” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophelia_...). I liked how much Effie and her family were and how much she depended on them to deal with her marriages and loss of children. I thought the chapter on Sophy Gray, Effie’s younger Gray, particularly interesting. As to whether or not Sophy and Everett had an affair, I cannot speculate on that. It is intriguing to note that there will be two movies out in 2014 about Effie Gray, though I think I will see the one written by Emma Thompson. 4 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    This is an excellent look into the life of Effie Grey, who is primarily known for her marriages in the world of Victorian art. Cooper had unprecedented access to Effie's letters, generously lent by the Millais family. For the most part, Cooper makes excellent use of them as she untangles Effie's first, and rather troubled, marriage to John Ruskin. Ruskin's voice is so powerful and so authoritative even all these years later that it is a joy to finally hear Effie, to get her side of the tale. How This is an excellent look into the life of Effie Grey, who is primarily known for her marriages in the world of Victorian art. Cooper had unprecedented access to Effie's letters, generously lent by the Millais family. For the most part, Cooper makes excellent use of them as she untangles Effie's first, and rather troubled, marriage to John Ruskin. Ruskin's voice is so powerful and so authoritative even all these years later that it is a joy to finally hear Effie, to get her side of the tale. However, I would have liked to have literally heard her voice more instead of the novel-like descriptions of what Effie must have been feeling or seeing that Cooper relied upon to set the scene. Cooper also worked to rehabilitate Effie's reputation as the cause of Millais "selling out" and her discussion on the working relationship in their marriage is a must for any Millais scholar. The early chapters on the Ruskin marriage/annulment are the strongest, perhaps because they are naturally the most dramatic and are the best documented in Effie's correspondence. After Effie's marriage to Millias, Cooper's sense of time starts to unravel. I enjoyed and commend Cooper's tackling the idea of how Effie's surprising stand against Ruskin (fighting for an annulment and her freedom instead of quietly moving out of the house) affected future generations of women in her family and women as a whole. Cooper demonstrates the trajectory of women's freedom and how the vanguard soon becomes the status quo. However, she often jumps around too much in time, leaving the reader feeling a bit adrift. Her chapter on Sophy Grey, Effie's young sister, is likewise rich, though it too often felt like armchair psychology. Overall an excellent and revealing biography of an exceptional woman.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The story of Effie throws a light on the world of art in the late 19th century, and the way in which social conditions (relationships, social attitudes, health and politics) impact on the lives of individuals. In this case the individuals move in the higher social classes, but the point is still well made. As always delightful to find small mentions of places I have seen or visited.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Clough

    Excellent, although possibly not organized in the best way. Flashbacks are confusing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    This is perfectly fine. But I got a little bogged down at times, mainly because I've read lots about these people before (and have seen the Emma Thompson movie) so I already know the overall story, this was a little more detail than I needed at this time. But for a first encounter with the subject, it will certainly fill you in. This is perfectly fine. But I got a little bogged down at times, mainly because I've read lots about these people before (and have seen the Emma Thompson movie) so I already know the overall story, this was a little more detail than I needed at this time. But for a first encounter with the subject, it will certainly fill you in.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Pretty interesting biography of the wife of John Ruskin; perhaps the first section on their doomed marriage is the most compulsive part. Ruskin remains a total enigma- genius in the art world, a man who liked his own company, liked living with his parents, liked little girls but not women : just why did he saddle himself with a wife? As the (much younger) Effie, ignored and untouched by her husband, takes to socializing, she faces the increasing unpleasantness of Ruskin and his doting parents. A Pretty interesting biography of the wife of John Ruskin; perhaps the first section on their doomed marriage is the most compulsive part. Ruskin remains a total enigma- genius in the art world, a man who liked his own company, liked living with his parents, liked little girls but not women : just why did he saddle himself with a wife? As the (much younger) Effie, ignored and untouched by her husband, takes to socializing, she faces the increasing unpleasantness of Ruskin and his doting parents. And as a growing friendship develops with her husband's protégé, artist John Millais, separation is on the cards. The scandal in Victorian England of divorce following this 'non-marriage' (much public censure, particularly of Effie); and the subsequent life with Millais takes up the rest of the volume. Effie remained close all her life to her family in Scotland, and they, too, form a large part of the narrative, notably her sister - mentally ill and anorexic. Effie and Millais went on to have eight children, who also brought their issues (and who seem to have been shunted off a lot to their maternal grandparents). And all the time Millais' reputation in the art world grew... Very readable.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim Bjarkman

    Note: This review contains ‘spoilers,’ especially if the reader is not already familiar with the subjects of this historical biography and what happened to them. * * * * I found the real-life character of Effie Gray as narrated in these pages to be a somewhat disagreeable and not entirely sympathetic figure, but her story interwoven with Ruskin’s and Millais’ is a fascinating one, expertly stitched together here from exclusive access to the necessary primary documents, chiefly comprised of corre Note: This review contains ‘spoilers,’ especially if the reader is not already familiar with the subjects of this historical biography and what happened to them. * * * * I found the real-life character of Effie Gray as narrated in these pages to be a somewhat disagreeable and not entirely sympathetic figure, but her story interwoven with Ruskin’s and Millais’ is a fascinating one, expertly stitched together here from exclusive access to the necessary primary documents, chiefly comprised of correspondence. While Effie Gray, eventually Mrs. Millais, seems to display certain very human vices, such as degrees of vanity, maternal callousness, and class pride (along with less than progressive views on certain subjects and activists of her time), their basis in life’s hardships and the social order are well documented and explored in the biography. The book provides rare insight into both men of genius in Effie’s orbit, the influential scholar John Ruskin and mesmerizingly talented Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. Somehow, Ruskin, Gray’s estranged/disgraced first husband, nevertheless emerges even more shrouded in mystery in his ill-fated journey through these pages, as their story is told incrementally through his wife’s lens. Her early letters exercise considerable discretion, masking the extent and nature of her unhappiness, such that her eventual candor and assertions of lifelong, unhealable psychic scars from their failed union bear witness to a potent blend of secret shame and bolder hindsight. Since Effie’s words hold sway as the primary voice guiding the biography, the overall account establishes John Ruskin as an emotional and psychological abuser, beholden to controlling parents in an oppressive familial closeness that seemingly conspired to smother Effie’s own ambitions, starve her of affection, and extinguish her hopes of marital/personal fulfillment. Meanwhile, Ruskin’s own vehement self-defense (namely, of his virility) stayed sealed for nearly 100 years and was never entered into evidence in the court case that infamously dissolved their marriage, at which time he apparently took the high road; at great personal cost to his reputation and dignity, eager to dispense with the matter, he refused to contest her case, and indeed testified that her “conduct” was beyond “reproach” (p. 126). Resisting the urge to simplify their complex story, I appreciate how the biographer Suzanne Fagence Cooper takes care not to further impugn Mr. Ruskin’s character, more than history and court verdict have already done. Instead, she even-handedly presents the known details of their passionless, bizarre, unfortunate, and fraught life together and its aftermath, while also conscientiously acknowledging and respectfully honoring Ruskin’s profound contributions, intellectual sensitivity, and gifts of insight as both visionary artistic advocate and critical giant of aesthetic history. Clearly, it was into his rich intellectual (and spiritual) life, not his marriage, that Ruskin poured his passion and soul. As for John Everett Millais, his art takes center stage throughout much of the narrative and serves as another level of storytelling and family biography in its own right. His groundbreaking early and lucrative later styles are explored, both aesthetically and as shaped by other factors (financial and professional demands). As Beatrix Potter wrote in her journals, his use of focus in signature paintings such as Ophelia (1851/2) is especially striking: “Focus is the real essence of pre-Raphaelite art, as is practiced by Millais. Everything in focus at once, which though natural…produces on the whole a different impression from that which we receive from nature” (quoted in Linda Lear’s Potter biography, p. 63). Fagence Cooper further explains that this movement drew inspiration from medieval paintings in which “[e]ach model, from the smallest leaf upwards, was treated as an individual” (p. 85). She frequently pauses to analyze, thoughtfully, many of Millais’ paintings and drawings with skill and nuance, tracing the evolution -- or in his critics’ eyes, gradual loosening (brushstrokes) and popularizing (subject choices) -- of his work. I only wish more of these were included in the book’s illustrations pages; be sure to read with Internet image access at the ready. You will not find much at all in these pages about Effie’s level of acquaintance with the other Pre-Raphaelites or the women in their lives, such as model/artist Lizzie Siddal (d. 1862). There is passing reference to William Holman Hunt’s rocky relationship with Annie Miller as noteworthy cautionary context in young Millais’ inner circle that informed his own disinclination toward romantic love pre-Effie, i.e. prior to his all-consuming infatuation with the picturesque Mrs. Ruskin (p. 106). Fagence Cooper’s pages devoted to synopsizing the fateful, provocative Pre-Raphaelite/Ruskin alliance left me eager to reread exquisite passages of Ruskin’s own masterwork The Stones of Venice (which intrigued me decades ago when perusing theories of the vibrant grotesque elements in medieval art). The final chapters probe into the Millais’ marital home in later decades with close scrutiny of their familial and social lives, although shining very little light on their relationship itself beyond the practical arrangement of duties. It is not especially clear the extent to which Effie’s feelings toward John Everett Millais were passionate, either at the outset or in later years, but there is a sense of loyalty and constancy of shared purpose. Children and close extended family encircled this power couple of the art world, and the biography deftly highlights the intricate role that art played as the defining purpose of their palatial residence and the stage on which the Millais children grew up in the public eye. Even in Effie’s successful second marriage, the domestic lives of the Millais and Gray clan remained steeped in past and new layers of personal tragedy, the cumulative effect of which seems to have been endowing Mrs. Millais with a remarkable kind of stoicism.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Suzannah

    Such a fascinating book about art and women in Victorian England. I would have liked to go more in depth in some areas, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Effie Gray, from her disastrous first marriage to her life as the wife, social secretary, and business advisor to the greatest painter of the Victorian age. Particularly valuable is Cooper's defence of Millais's development out of the PRB, though I could have done with much more depth. A great book for any fan of Pre-Raphaelites, Victoriana Such a fascinating book about art and women in Victorian England. I would have liked to go more in depth in some areas, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Effie Gray, from her disastrous first marriage to her life as the wife, social secretary, and business advisor to the greatest painter of the Victorian age. Particularly valuable is Cooper's defence of Millais's development out of the PRB, though I could have done with much more depth. A great book for any fan of Pre-Raphaelites, Victoriana, or clever and entrepreneurial women.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John

    This audiobook kept my attention throughout, but I felt the earlier, John Ruskin-centered passages were more interesting than the later parts about Effie's marriage to Millais and her children. However, with the audiobook, you don't get to see the pictures which I assume were in the book (it is in part about an artist and his models) and it is hard to judge whether the author is over-dramatizing incidents. I suspect, however, that much if not all of the description is supported by the parties' e This audiobook kept my attention throughout, but I felt the earlier, John Ruskin-centered passages were more interesting than the later parts about Effie's marriage to Millais and her children. However, with the audiobook, you don't get to see the pictures which I assume were in the book (it is in part about an artist and his models) and it is hard to judge whether the author is over-dramatizing incidents. I suspect, however, that much if not all of the description is supported by the parties' extensive correspondence.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Over half term, Peter and I visited Brantwood, John Ruskin''s home overlooking Coniston Water in the Lake District. It was wonderful and we found out so much about Ruskin. I was tempted to buy a biography of his wife Effie Grey. It tells of her life with Ruskin, the annulment of their marriage and her life with her second husband John Everett Millais. I found her story absolutely facinating, very readable and full of information about the lives of Victorian women, the Previous Raphaelite brother Over half term, Peter and I visited Brantwood, John Ruskin''s home overlooking Coniston Water in the Lake District. It was wonderful and we found out so much about Ruskin. I was tempted to buy a biography of his wife Effie Grey. It tells of her life with Ruskin, the annulment of their marriage and her life with her second husband John Everett Millais. I found her story absolutely facinating, very readable and full of information about the lives of Victorian women, the Previous Raphaelite brotherhood and art. I loved this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beeds

    A fluent, easy-to-read biography of this strong, charismatic woman. There are interesting insights into the role of the Victorian wife too and the business-like manner in which Everett Millais was forced to live his life.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Girl with her Head in a Book

    For my full review: http://girlwithherheadinabook.blogspo... For my full review: http://girlwithherheadinabook.blogspo...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    This story would never have been told if a lifetime of correspondence had not been preserved. What a fascinating life Effie had compared to the women of her day.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Long

    Loved this book. Easy to read, engaging, not overly long, and well researched.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)

    *Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during "This" Summer: A Lauren Willig Theme Month for the release of That Summer (May 2014) Effie Grey thought that in marrying the erudite author and art critic John Ruskin that she was entering a life of parties and soirees peopled by the elite of London. Instead this young Scotch girl entered a loveless marriage where she was repeatedly berated and belittled not just by her husband but by her in-laws as well. She suffered throug *Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during "This" Summer: A Lauren Willig Theme Month for the release of That Summer (May 2014) Effie Grey thought that in marrying the erudite author and art critic John Ruskin that she was entering a life of parties and soirees peopled by the elite of London. Instead this young Scotch girl entered a loveless marriage where she was repeatedly berated and belittled not just by her husband but by her in-laws as well. She suffered through six years of daily horrors but was willing to accept her fate because it was the life she had chosen. But then John Everett Millais showed up in her life. They had once met at a dance years ago, before their lives took different paths, a meeting Millais remembered well. Those paths would converge when Ruskin took Millais under his wing. The two men working together and even vacationing together meant the young Effie and Everett where often thrown together, perhaps by Ruskin's doing, and love soon stirred in their hearts. Effie had the grounds to do something unheard of in Victorian England. Effie could leave Ruskin because their marriage was unconsummated and therefore was not a real marriage at all. With Everett's encouragement, she took this unheard of step to reclaim her life. But in trading one man for another, was Effie able to get what she wanted or was she stifled yet again? There are two ways in which this biography could have worked. One would have been to write more in the style of Philippa Gregory and make it a fictionalized biography though as thoroughly based in fact as possible. The other would have been to go more scholarly and linger on details and events. Instead Effie is a book that leaves you wondering why you are reading a book obviously dumbed down for the masses. At times the writing style shifts into a conversational conspiratorial style only to be followed up with dull facts and figures. I just wanted to shake the author and tell her to pick a style, any style. This mishmash of styles gave me extreme dissatisfaction and at times annoyed me to the point of wanting to throw the book. I've read my fair share of art history books and biographies but I don't think I've ever been this bored and frustrated by a book that combines two passions of mine. At a little over two hundred pages, minus all the appendices, Suzanne Fagence Cooper has written little more then a fleshed out outline for a book. I got no sense of the three people one who this book hinges. In fact, Ruskin, Millais, and Effie, seemed nothing more then cardboard cut outs that occasionally mimicked Victorian stereotypes, but usually remained two dimensional. I'm sorry but two dimensional characters can not, by definition, have passion, so right there the title of the book is wrong. There's a part of me that just wishes to rewrite this whole book. Cooper had unheard of access to documents that have never been seen and the soapy miniseries Desperate Romantics did a better job of making these people flesh and blood in their minimal screen time then a scholar whose life is the Pre-Raphaelites. The fact that the secondary family members and friends were far more interesting then the subjects of the book is a sign that your book isn't working, just so you know for future reference. But it's not just the writing style that is irksome. The structure of the book is such that I have a feeling I plot out my book reviews more then the author did this book. She relied too much on the gimmickry of using Millais artwork as chapter headings, work that is not included in the book, but more on that later, then bothering to realize her timeline was fucked. There is no way to capture her structure then by saying it's wibbly wobbly timey wimey. I get why Cooper starts out with a little flash forward to Effie leaving Ruskin, because it gives the beginning of the book a thrust, an event, a crisis we are building to. We only cover twenty-seven years in the first eight chapters, most of those concentrating on the six to seven years of Ruskin and Effie together, leaving us five chapters to cover the remaining forty-two years of her life, of which two chapters don't even deal with Effie, the supposed topic of this book. And it's these remaining five chapters I have the most issue with. They jump around and go forwards and backwards over events from different points of view and at different times. I have no freakin' idea of a coherent timeline of events in Effie's life other then she had tons of children. If there was just some through line, some way to sort things out into order instead of writing in such a way that it feels like Cooper forgot to tell part of her story and instead of going back and adding it in in the appropriate spot, she just wrote it into the section of the book she was on even if it made no sense, then I might have at least come to grips with the book. Adding to the issues of the book making no sense is the fact that Effie and Millais really had too many children, and Effie too many siblings, and couple that with the propensity for using the same names in different branches of the family and you are at sea. Not to mention all the children had nicknames and while Cooper claims she will use the same naming conventions throughout the book, she does not, not that this is a surprise given the grammatical errors and the abysmal mess that is the appendices. I hope she knows there are standards for appendices, you can't sight something differently each time... which ties back in with the naming issues. Effie's eldest daughter is Effie... yep, this wasn't fun, because Cooper would quite often forget to say Effie the younger and so, who knows which Effie was which. There reached a point pretty early on when I realized I didn't care. Also, the multiple Everetts, the eldest son's nickname being Evie, which, when you are reading fast, as you do with books you are growing more and more in hate with and longing for the time when you can write a scathing review, well, it too reads like Effie. But again, what does this all matter. All these people, all their lives, I couldn't care less about any of them as they are portrayed by Cooper. Now I must finally vent on a personal pet peeve. Graphics! I'll first just state I hate this cover with a passion. You have one of the greatest painters of ALL TIME as your subject and he painted his wife quite often and you have a crappy stock photo of a girl with ill fitting gloves. If there's one thing I learned, Effie loved her clothes and those gloves wouldn't do. Are you trying to appeal to the common demographic who you might lure to see the upcoming movie by making it look not about art? Cause right there, you're pissing me off with underestimating me, but then again, the book was written at such a basic level, perhaps the people who this book appeals to will find it fascinating, ie, not me. Yet this little cover rant isn't my main issue. My main issue is that when you have a book about artwork you MUST include pictures of ALL THE WORK! Yes, there are some pieces featured, but Cooper goes into great detail annoyingly waxing her own views on Millais' work only to not have the work included in the book. You talk about it, we have the right to see it. You can't get printing rights or some other snafu that doesn't let you include the art, you omit that section wherein you tried to color my views of the work with yours. Here's an idea lady, you go off and write your bland pap for the unwashed masses who hope to seem educated in picking up this paltry tome, and I'll avoid you and read fascinating works by real scholars.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Voirrey

    What a fascinating biography of someone who has interested me for some years. Effie Gray, who found that John Ruskin's ideas of a wife and marriage were not hers; nor would they have been most people's. The author does try to be fair to Ruskin, but his choice to not consummate the marriage, and his preference for his parents' company over his wife's certainly did not make him an ideal husband. Poor Effie who was so embarrassed by her continued virginal state that she couldn't even bring herself What a fascinating biography of someone who has interested me for some years. Effie Gray, who found that John Ruskin's ideas of a wife and marriage were not hers; nor would they have been most people's. The author does try to be fair to Ruskin, but his choice to not consummate the marriage, and his preference for his parents' company over his wife's certainly did not make him an ideal husband. Poor Effie who was so embarrassed by her continued virginal state that she couldn't even bring herself to tell her doctor when the subject of her childlessness came up. And I think SFC is right in her conclusion, when reading the extensive letter collection that remains, that Ruskin actually began to go out of his way to besmirch her reputation - encouraging her to attend social events with other men and positively pushing her and J Everett Millais together. He seemed to want her to be shamed and forced to return to her parents so that he could return to life totally as a pampered son rather than an adult male without any blame falling on him. I thought, too, how brave it was of Effie to insist on the annulment, once she realised it was possible, knowing how difficult it would be for her having to submit to full gynae examinations by more than one eminent gynaecologist of the day and discuss her body, and sex, in a church court. The commonly held belief that Ruskin was horrified by her having pubic hair is challenged here - and I think the author's conclusion that constantly moving the date of the wedding to suit his parents' travel plans may have meant she was menstruating, is reasonable. But certainly no good reason for his subsequent behaviour! Her long married life with Millais is covered, too - and the suggestion, often made, that she forced him to 'sell-out' to the establishment examined. On the whole I think this is very fair biography of Effie - she is shown as neither the perfect,wronged, woman, nor the villain; but a flesh and blood woman whose life was not easy, nor anything like she would have pictured it as a girl, and yet it was a life well lived.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    This is an utterly fascinating book, not only regarding the sexless marriage of John Ruskin and Effie Gray, but most importantly the social roles of women in Victorian age. John Ruskin wanted to marry the much younger Effie Gray. He toyed and played games regarding his commitment and possible love of Effie. Finally, he tried to put aside his penchant for little girls, but continued to allowed his parents to rule his life and marriage. Ruskin was the foremost art critic of his time. Well admired an This is an utterly fascinating book, not only regarding the sexless marriage of John Ruskin and Effie Gray, but most importantly the social roles of women in Victorian age. John Ruskin wanted to marry the much younger Effie Gray. He toyed and played games regarding his commitment and possible love of Effie. Finally, he tried to put aside his penchant for little girls, but continued to allowed his parents to rule his life and marriage. Ruskin was the foremost art critic of his time. Well admired and an opinion that mattered greatly in the art world. He gradually grew to like and admire the art of the Pre Raphaelite painters, of which handsome, intelligent and accomplished Millais was well respected. He solidified his role in the Pre Raphaelite world by painting one of the most respected works of Ophelia. Effie Gray was a mere 19 years old when she married Ruskin, a much older dapper man. On the night of her honeymoon, there was no intimacy. Through the years, this continued. Despite her attempts to woe him, she was told that her body abhorred him and brought no desire to touch her. In the Victorian courts, it was exceedingly difficult for a woman to seek and win a divorce. With her parents assistance, she fought the courts and gradually won a split from Ruskin on the grounds of impotence. A man who was attached to his parents, loving only his mommy, the divorce brought scandal to Ruskin. Ruskin admired the works of Millais, and during a summer vacation to Scotland, Effie's home of origin, he asked Millais to paint him. This too became one of the famous paintings of Millais. The three shared a small house, and while Millias left them behind most of the day, Effie and Millais grew to admire and love each other. Sensing her extreme unhappiness, Effie disclosed hers was a seven year marriage with no intimacy. This is a fascinating look of Victorian mores and rules. Effie did win a divorce, and she and Millias married and produced eight children. If you, like me admire the works of the Pre Raphelites, this is a must read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Margo Lehman

    I read this book as part of an Artists in Fiction book club and perhaps this wasn't the best choice for such a club. This is definitely not fiction. The story itself is interesting and I do love art history, especially biographies about artists, if done well. I found myself frustrated that Fagence Cooper didn't even try to write this as a story in any kind of chronological order. I almost gave up on it when she gives away the ending in the introduction. Not everyone knows the story of Effie Gray I read this book as part of an Artists in Fiction book club and perhaps this wasn't the best choice for such a club. This is definitely not fiction. The story itself is interesting and I do love art history, especially biographies about artists, if done well. I found myself frustrated that Fagence Cooper didn't even try to write this as a story in any kind of chronological order. I almost gave up on it when she gives away the ending in the introduction. Not everyone knows the story of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais. What a shame that she didn't gather her well researched information and keep it in order so that we, the readers (or in my case a listener) could know these people as real human beings, rather than just subjects in a history book. The way the dates were thrown around, I kept wondering if there was going to be a pop quiz between chapters. All that said, the author has done an immense amount of research here and I can certainly say I learned quite a lot about the three subjects and Victorian era Europe as well. Just wish she had made it more like a good story than a dry history lesson.

  23. 5 out of 5

    shareads

    I don't like the writing style for this book and I don't get it why Effie was popular? I mean, even before her marriage, Ruskin wasn't treat her as a proper young lady, he'd always thought of himself and his family, in some letters, he even called Effie, "My pet" which is rude for me even he might said it as a joke. Is it because of their unconsummated marriage? That doesn't seemed right either, why did he rejected her for some foolish reasons? And why people wanted to know about what they did i I don't like the writing style for this book and I don't get it why Effie was popular? I mean, even before her marriage, Ruskin wasn't treat her as a proper young lady, he'd always thought of himself and his family, in some letters, he even called Effie, "My pet" which is rude for me even he might said it as a joke. Is it because of their unconsummated marriage? That doesn't seemed right either, why did he rejected her for some foolish reasons? And why people wanted to know about what they did in bed? I just can't make any sense out of it. My one star was for the settings, the reality of Victorian Era, how they treated womens so badly, and how there's a huge cases of death caused by unknown diseases or mental illnesses that can't not be treated easily. I've forced myself to read this book every single time and when I finished it I felt that I was wasting my time.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This was an excellent, historically correct account of the lives of three people so intrinsically linked to the new art movement in the 19th century. It also reinforces the fact that the current theory of the "oppression of women in the Victorian age" is completely incorrect. There have been strong, intelligent and powerful women all throughout history, it wasn't something that happened suddenly in the 21st century. This type of delusion is what prevents me from identifying as a "feminist". The P This was an excellent, historically correct account of the lives of three people so intrinsically linked to the new art movement in the 19th century. It also reinforces the fact that the current theory of the "oppression of women in the Victorian age" is completely incorrect. There have been strong, intelligent and powerful women all throughout history, it wasn't something that happened suddenly in the 21st century. This type of delusion is what prevents me from identifying as a "feminist". The Pre-Raphaelite school is my favorite art movement because of the quality of the work, the attention to detail, the narratives that are often illustrated in the paintings, and their overall beauty. Some dumb bitch at Book Riot once made the statement that "all art is political". Wrong as usual!!!! Art is personal.............deal with it!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Roryz

    I have known about the strange story of Effie Ruskin Millais, and I appreciated reading the details of Effie’s life from beginning to end. Overall, a good read, but frustrating because there are no pictures! The book alludes to Effie and her sisters acting as John Everett Millais muses, but I had to look up each work as it was mentioned. There’s a lot of discussion in the book about how Millais poured out his love for Effie onto his canvases as he fell more deeply in love with her. But, it was mad I have known about the strange story of Effie Ruskin Millais, and I appreciated reading the details of Effie’s life from beginning to end. Overall, a good read, but frustrating because there are no pictures! The book alludes to Effie and her sisters acting as John Everett Millais muses, but I had to look up each work as it was mentioned. There’s a lot of discussion in the book about how Millais poured out his love for Effie onto his canvases as he fell more deeply in love with her. But, it was maddening to not see the pictures as they were discussed. The paintings mentioned are in the public domain, easily accessed online, but it broke the momentum for me as the book progressed. Also, some creaky editing, repetition, and general disjointedness toward the second half of the book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Marshall

    Fascinating content, but even calling this “narrative fiction” is a stretch. Particularly in the latter half of the book the chapters are peppered with statements such as “He could not help thinking that it would be his turn next” (233) or “Effie [was] thinking about the days when she had been young” (198). If these were extrapolated from diaries or letters, why are they not cited? If they’re pure conjecture why can’t they read “He likely could not help thinking...” or “Effie may have been think Fascinating content, but even calling this “narrative fiction” is a stretch. Particularly in the latter half of the book the chapters are peppered with statements such as “He could not help thinking that it would be his turn next” (233) or “Effie [was] thinking about the days when she had been young” (198). If these were extrapolated from diaries or letters, why are they not cited? If they’re pure conjecture why can’t they read “He likely could not help thinking...” or “Effie may have been thinking...”? As a story it’s engrossing. As a work of non-fiction it takes a lot of creative license and borders on sloppy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane Matisse

    Despite my having trouble reading biographies of this length, this was a very interesting read. I appreciate the time and effort put in piecing together the life of Effie Grey and the two men in her life. Very interesting to see the kinds of changes and scandal she made during her time, and it was just the beginning. I love reading stories about women who didn’t conform to society’s standards at all. A very real, very sad, very powerful story pieced together by letters and journals and even paint Despite my having trouble reading biographies of this length, this was a very interesting read. I appreciate the time and effort put in piecing together the life of Effie Grey and the two men in her life. Very interesting to see the kinds of changes and scandal she made during her time, and it was just the beginning. I love reading stories about women who didn’t conform to society’s standards at all. A very real, very sad, very powerful story pieced together by letters and journals and even paintings. Very much enjoyed learning about the lives of these people I’d never heard about before.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ginna Kaiser

    This was good at first, I then felt like it would never end.I felt like about 35% of the way in they should have put in what Everett & Effie's relationships was like, how their marriage & children fared, where they ended up, etc. & ended it about 5% later. There were way too many details & I am a details gal. Instead of describing photographs or paintings, couldn't the author have included them? After around Chapter 8 I just got lost in the long-running details. This was good at first, I then felt like it would never end.I felt like about 35% of the way in they should have put in what Everett & Effie's relationships was like, how their marriage & children fared, where they ended up, etc. & ended it about 5% later. There were way too many details & I am a details gal. Instead of describing photographs or paintings, couldn't the author have included them? After around Chapter 8 I just got lost in the long-running details.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debra Gaskill

    This was fascinating! Art critic John Ruskin married Effie Gray, then for six years wouldn't (or couldn't?) consummate the marriage. Effie was eventually granted at annulment by the Church of England, but in an age where women couldn't divorce, largely, this one act had repercussions that followed her and family's life for years. This was fascinating! Art critic John Ruskin married Effie Gray, then for six years wouldn't (or couldn't?) consummate the marriage. Effie was eventually granted at annulment by the Church of England, but in an age where women couldn't divorce, largely, this one act had repercussions that followed her and family's life for years.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Ryan

    Given the three central figures, this is a fascinating read. Effie Gray is a woman to be greatly admired, a "feminist" before her time. A truly sympathetic portrait. Deserved applause to Ms. Cooper for bringing her life and the Victorian art world to our attention in such detail. A pleasure likely shared by many. Given the three central figures, this is a fascinating read. Effie Gray is a woman to be greatly admired, a "feminist" before her time. A truly sympathetic portrait. Deserved applause to Ms. Cooper for bringing her life and the Victorian art world to our attention in such detail. A pleasure likely shared by many.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.