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Effie    by Suzanne Fagence Cooper order for
by Suzanne Fagence Cooper
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Wanda Plourde

There was a beautiful Victorian woman by the name of Effie Gray. She wrote letters daily and, through her letters, we learn about her life. Effie was involved in a scandal, a love triangle with two men who were major players in the art world. When Effie was nineteen, she married the much older John Ruskin. On her wedding night her new husband refused her overtures and he never consummated the marriage. Effie felt trapped and very much alone in a loveless marriage.

Effie took a holiday in Scotland where she met the man who was to paint her husband's portrait. She fell in love with him. He was John Everett Millais, her husband's protégé and a very well known Pre-Raphaelite artist. Effie risked everything to leave her husband and marry Millais. This caused controversy, since at that time women had few marital rights. All Effie wanted to do was to be happy with her husband, helping in social circles and his art studio. But tragedy seemed to follow her. She was a woman who ended up playing a key role between two men and their artistic endeavors. It is said she was behind some of the most provocative paintings ever done by Millais.

When I picked up this book, I did not realize it was a biography and this is not something I usually enjoy. But as an artist myself, I found this bit of history very enlightening and educational. I enjoyed the love story and found the book very well researched - the author makes readers feel like Effie is talking out loud about her life.

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