A tender and imaginative retelling of the adventures of two of history’s most compelling women
In 1778 Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby left County Kilkenny for Wales to live together as a married couple. Both well born, highly educated Irish women, the Ladies of Llangollen, as they came to be known, defied all eighteenth-century social convention and spent half a century together in a loving relationship.
Removed from the intrusive gaze of the world, the fictional Eleanor and Sarah retreat to their shared home to study literature and language and enjoy their solitude. In an imagined account, Doris Grumbach brings this gripping chronicle to new audiences. With a keen sense of the rhythms and routines of longtime partnership, Grumbach breathes vivid life into this fascinating story of a passion both shocking and steadfast.
“Boldly imagined, subtly crafted . . . eloquently documents the existence of women who lived as they wished to, instead of as society expected them to.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Grumbach is acutely sensitive to the quiet hum of everyday living and the small acquired habits that bond lovers over long periods. It is especially touching to watch the women age as the pages turn, affecting a kind of time-lapse realism that doesn’t diminish the Ladies’ passion or love for each other.” —Ms.
“A tale told in delicate brushstrokes of a relationship in which two hearts came almost literally to beat as one.” —Newsday
“Understated and elegant, this slim book is a true classic on that rarest of relationships, companions of the heart.” —San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle Doris Grumbach, author of many novels and memoirs including Fifty Days of Solitude, Life in a Day, The Ladies, and Chamber Music, has been literary editor of the New Republic, a nonfiction columnist for the New York Times Book Review, a book reviewer for National Public Radio, and a bookseller in Washington, DC, and Maine. She lives in Philadelphia.