Briefly, A Delicious Life

by Nell Stevens

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LoveReading Expert Review of Briefly, A Delicious Life

Exhilarating, sensual, and inventive, this fictionalised account of the relationship between George Sand and Frédéric Chopin reels with unrequited love and the intrigue of an exquisitely unusual ghost story.

A ravishing riff on the real-life relationship between writer George Sand and composer Frédéric Chopin, Nell Stevens’ Briefly, A Delicious Life glows with Mediterranean heat, avant-garde verve, and a yearning that burns.

Set in 1838, and narrated by Blanca, the ghost of a witty, whip-smart fourteen-year-old girl who died in a Mallorca monastery in 1473, this character-driven charmer is suffused in beauty, and casts a captivating spell.

Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children have travelled to a monastery in Mallorca to convalesce and create. Sand is a striking woman in man’s clothes, whose arrival incites a stir on the island as it stirs Blanca’s heart and desires. As the unconventional couple struggle with the villagers’ judgements, and to find creative satisfaction, Blanca recounts her story, her experiences of falling for the beauty of women. And now she’s in love with Sand, who doesn’t know she exists, and cannot reciprocate.

This wildly inventive scenario plays out ingeniously — though outlandish, through Blanca’s age-old wisdom and youthful spirit, and through the visual, sensual language, it feels real. We see and sense flurries of birds and leaves. We feel the prickle and heat of flesh and the sun. What a moving, magical, hauntingly memorable story.

Joanne Owen

Briefly, A Delicious Life Synopsis

'A gorgeous, wildly seductive novel, shimmering with intelligence, humour and joy' - Sarah Waters

In 1838 Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her children travel to a monastery in Mallorca. They are there to create and to convalesce, to live a simple life after the wildness of their Paris days.

Witness to this tumultuous arrival is Blanca, the ghost of a teenage girl who has been at the monastery for over three hundred years. Blanca's was a life cut short and she is outraged. Having lived in a world full, according to her mother, of 'beautiful men', she has found that in death it is the women she falls for, their beauty she cannot turn away from, and it is the women and girls who, over her centuries in the village and at the monastery, she has sought to protect from the attentions of men with what little power she has. And then George Sand arrives, this beautiful woman in a man's clothes, and Blanca is in love.

But the rest of the village is suspicious of the newcomers, and as winter sets in, as George tries to keep her family and herself from falling apart, as Chopin writes prelude after prelude in despair on his tuneless piano, their stay looks likely to end in disaster . . .

Heady with the delicious scent of the Mediterranean, richly witty, and utterly compulsive, Briefly, A Delicious Life is a story about convention and breaking convention, about love - yearning, secret, forbidden, unrequited - and about men and women and the cruelty they mete out to one another.

'Electrifyingly beautiful, exhilaratingly clever . . . sensual, original, intelligent and brimming with love' - Imogen Hermes Gowar

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781529083422
Publication date: 23rd June 2022
Author: Nell Stevens
Publisher: Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 336 pages
Collections:
Primary Genre Literary Fiction
Other Genres:
Recommendations:

What To Read After Briefly, A Delicious Life

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A Woman Made of Snow
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Nell Stevens Press Reviews

A luscious, multi-sensory bewitchment of a book - Stevens' writing rings with wit and surprise -- Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mercies

I found myself floored by the astonishing freshness of this historical novel . . . A shining work of art, but so deftfully, gracefully done, that it was a struggle to stop myself from turning the pages. Nell Stevens is an original, whose touch is as deft as it is masterful -- Elizabeth Macneal, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory

Electrifyingly beautiful, exhilaratingly clever . . . categorically the most gorgeous first novel I've read in years. It's rare that I come across historical fiction so sensual, so original, so intelligent, and so brimming with love -- Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

A haunting, dazzling tale of all the good stuff: love, sex, music, literature, death, and what happens after. Nell Stevens is a beautiful writer. -- Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces and Milk Fed

A novel of tremulous beauty, sly wit and deep understanding, Briefly, A Delicious Life is an addictive, sunlit delight -- Stuart Evers, author of The Blind Light

A gorgeous, wildly seductive novel, shimmering with intelligence, humour and joy. I adored this book. -- Sarah Waters, author of Fingersmith and The Paying Guests

A luminous, beguiling exploration of creativity and love -- Alice Albinia, author of CWEN

We know we are curious about the dead but imagine a life lived so vibrantly as to make the dead curious about us. Nell Stevens brings a reader into the strange and brilliant artistic exile of George Sand, writing this tender story with tremendous heart and daring. Here, reader, are the low-lying truths of love, art and time -- Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark

This delightfully weird story of loss, longing and love just begs to fill a rainy afternoon. - Good Housekeeping (USA)

Stevens' prose is by turns languid and visceral . . . An entrancing and singular exploration of a fascinating historical footnote and a queer life after death. -- Kirkus (starred review)

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781529083422
Publication date: 23/06/2022
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9781529083453
Publication date: 23/06/2022
Format: Ebook

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About Nell Stevens

Nell Stevens has a First in English and Creative Writing from Warwick, after which she went on to study Arabic and Comparative Literature at Harvard, and to receive a Marcia Trimble Fellowship and the Florence Engel Randall Graduate Fiction Award for her MFA in Fiction at Boston University. She is currently researching a Ph.D. in Victorian literature at King's College London. She was a finalist in the 2011 Elle magazine Writing Talent Contest, and a runner-up in both the 2014 Mslexia Memoir Competition and the 2015 Mslexia Short Story Prize.

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