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Unto This Last: A Novel by Rebecca Lipkin

Published : 28th August 2020

Publisher : Book Guild Publishing

Format : Paperback

Genre : Historical Fiction

* All words highlighted in Grey are links to either purchase from a range of sellers or links to the authors sites.


London, 1858.

Passionate, contradictory, and fiercely loyal to his friends, John Ruskin is an eccentric genius, famed across Britain for his writings on art and philosophy. Haunted by a scandalous past and determined never to love again, the 39-year-old Ruskin becomes infatuated with his enigmatic young student, Rose La Touche, an obsession with profound consequences that will change the course of his life and work.

Written in a style recalling Victorian literature and spanning a period of twenty years, the story poses questions about the nature of love, the boundaries of parenthood, and compatibility in marriage. Unto This Last is a portrait of Ruskin's tormented psyche and reveals a complex and misunderstood soul, longing for a life just out of reach.

Thank you @RandomThingsTours and Rebecca Lipkin for sending me this amazing read.

My Review

This is a story about John Ruskin who was a victorian scholar and was highly regarded in the arts and philosophy of his time. Ruskin reluctantly accepts an position to tutor the children of the upper class Mrs La Touche. Mrs La Touche finds herself besotted with Ruskin, she is very unhappy in her own marriage, so looks for comfort within Ruskin.

The youngest of the two daughters, Rose who is only 10, unexpectedly catches Ruskin's eye, she is clever, astute and holds a talent for art. Aside from Ruskin being thirty-nine years old, the pair over the years begin a relationship and even though there are miles between them on occasion Ruskin manages to snatch meetings with Rose at her family home in Ireland and when they cannot be together they communicated their love via letters.

As Rose gets older though she becomes confused about how she feels towards Ruskin and with her parents unhappy marriage and the atmosphere of that feeding through the home onto the family this puts a huge strain on to Roses mental well being.

Roses parents are disgusted when they find out about her relationship with Ruskin and are quite unkind in there efforts to split the pair apart. Rose finds all this to much to handle and ends up staying in asylums.

The story also touches on his earlier marriage to Effie Gray which was unconsummated and deeply unhappy, hence leading to a divorce.

Why I Loved It

I found this story extremely fascinating, the detail and descriptiveness of the writing really setting the victorian scene and pulling you into that era.

Personally I can see why Ruskin was so highly admired by his peers as he was extremely passionate about his work but he was also a selfish man who on occasion, put himself and his own feelings above anyone else's.

Lipkin does not hesitate to show us Ruskin's many faults, and there is no doubt that he was an extremely emotional man whose romantic love for Rose inspired him but at the same time caused him a great deal of torment.

This is a huge novel but I found I steamed my way though it as I just could not put it down. Historical fiction is among my most favoured genres and I highly recommend this novel to anyone who favours the same.



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Meet the author

Rebecca Lipkin has had a passion for Victorian art and literature from a young age. She first discovered John Ruskin through E.M. Forster’s novel, A Room with a View, and later joined the Ruskin Society at the age of seventeen to learn more about Ruskin’s work.

Rebecca pursued a career in journalism, specialising in arts writing and theatre reviews, and has worked for a number of national publications.

Rebecca says, “Most accounts of John Ruskin’s complex personal life focus on his brief marriage to Effie Gray, but his twenty-year relationship with Rose La Touche was of huge importance to the evolution of his thinking; it is a captivating and tragic story of two people whose loving friendship transcended boundaries and conventions to the very end.”

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Claire's Similar reads

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Spirited by Julie Cohen

Opium and the Absinthe by Lydia Dang

I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?

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