Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “La sonnambula” as Want to Read:
La sonnambula
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

La sonnambula

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,316 ratings  ·  203 reviews
Quando, nella Londra di fine Ottocento, la diciassettenne Phoebe Turner aveva accettato la proposta dell'eccentrico Nathaniel Samuels e, dalla capitale inglese, si era trasferita a Dinwood Court, pensava che tutto si sarebbe risolto in una nuova esperienza; lavorare come dama di compagnia per Lydia, la moglie del signor Samuels, una donna fragile e malata di nervi. Ma c'è ...more
Hardcover, 1, 382 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Castelvecchi (first published May 26th 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about La sonnambula, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about La sonnambula

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
As a fan of Victorian gothic, I knew I'd want to read The Somnambulist the moment I heard about it. Aside from the great title and gorgeous cover, the plot sounded appealingly twisted and involving in a Sarah Waters kind of way (which, I'm pretty sure, is the effect the author was going for). The protagonist, and the narrator for much of the story, is Phoebe Turner, a seventeen-year-old girl who idolises her glamorous aunt Cissy, a singer and actress. Her mother, Maud, couldn't be more of a cont ...more
I am so pleased that The Sonambulist caught my eye. It is a lovely piece of Victoriana, and a quite wonderful debut novel.

I fell in love with the heroine. Phoebe Turner was just seventeen years old, and she was warm bright and thoughtful. In some ways she was very mature for her years, but in others she was very innocent, and as I learned more of her background I could understand why.

Phoebe grew up, in the East End of London, with her mother and her aunt. Maud, her mother, was a member of The Ha
Loved it! It took a while to get going but when it did it didn't hold back! A brilliantly woven story of family secrets, betrayal and forbidden love with characters that leapt off the page. I found them completely real and believable as well which can sometimes be hit and miss with a new author trying too hard to impress. Thankfully this isn't the case for Essie Fox in this her first novel and she will definitely be someone to watch out for. Puts me in mind of Sarah Waters or Shirley Jackson for ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I picked this up while traveling so I would have something to read on the train; it sounded intriguing and easy to read, and when the shop girl at the bookstore recommended it, I decided to buy it even though I hadn't heard of it before. I found this book hard to finish. The characters were two-dimensional and mostly annoying, particularly the protagonist, Phoebe, who was naive and helpless to a point that made me despise her. There were 'plot twists' that could be sussed out from the first chap ...more
Deborah Swift

I was excited to hear about the Virtual Victorian's new novel The Somnambulist, and when it popped up as a selection for Amazon Vine I could not resist.

And what a gem it is. Bravo to Essie Fox, it is a long time since I have enjoyed a debut novel so much. It is literate, engaging and atmospheric. What's more, it has a plot that kept me turning the pages, and just when I thought I had discovered all the secrets of the book, there was one more twist in the tale.

Phoebe's journey to uncover her past
The book revolves around Phoebe Turner, a 17 year old girl living in the London East End in the Victorian era with her bible bashing mother Maud and her 'delightful' Aunt Cissy. The first chapters of the book build a picture of the dysfunctional family dynamic, and love/hate relationship between Phoebe’s mother and aunt. Maud thinks that anything fun or joyful is a sin. She is also a bit of a hypocrite with a penchant for the devils juice. Aunt Cissy is an actress/ singer who is oh so delicate a ...more
Sue Uden
It is a little while since I finished it, but I loved everything about The Somnambulist. As the elaborately attractive design on the cover suggests, it gives an intricate insight into life in the East End of Victorian London. And there I met Phoebe Turner and her controlling, Hallelujah Army flag waving mother, Maud, and her ever fun-loving actress sister, Phoebe's Aunt Cissy. I can remember having to ignore a lot of the other mundane stuff going on around me, as each new mystery unfolded and un ...more
I waited 48 hours after finishing this book to write this because I wanted to be sure that I would not change my mind, and I didn't. I don't normally review books that I do not care for because it just seems a not very nice thing to do. After all, someone put a lot of time and effort in to create something I assume they are proud to present for my enjoyment. Really and truly though, I thought this was just awful. I have read some of the other glowing reviews and am beginning to wonder if maybe I ...more
Lorraine RushHourReads
I absolutely hated this book. The dialogue is plodding, the storyline flows badly and the characterisation is terrible. I struggled to understand the responses of the characters to events around them. The lead charachter, Phoebe, is an annoying, passive girl who seems completely oblivious to the obvious twist and seems bizarrely unaffected by all the terrible things that seem to regularly happen to her. It's just...annoying! I'm afraid that once the storyline became too soap opera, I realised I ...more
Don't bother. It only gets worse.
Libby Stephenson
This book, tho'. It reformed all my notions of modern gothic fiction, so painstaking constructed by Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield. I never would have expected things to get this dark and horrible. This is the social commentary of Daniel Deronda with the unrelenting wretchedness of Wuthering Heights. Now, I use the words "horrible" and "wretched" not because this is a bad book, but because you will have to witness utter betrayal, degradation, and loss.

I think that the real difference between
Even though I really disliked Elijah's Mermaid, mainly due to the utter ridiculousness of its plot, I was still amenable to trying The Somnambulist. It's Essie Fox's first novel and I've had the sample sitting on my Kindle since the book was first published; it's only because I came across it in the library that I've now read it.

It is not good. The best I can say is that it's not actively terrible apart from one particular aspect, of which more later. It certainly manages to avoid EM's error of
Essie Fox is a cruel and evil woman. Honestly, her debut novel is so stunning she deprived me of sleep last night. I must have told myself ‘just one more chapter’ at least ten times, to absolutely no avail. It was possibly almost *cough* 4 am by the time I was finally able to put this book down. And I was so hooked that I woke up this morning, made myself a drink and dove straight back in. So I retract my earlier comment, Fox isn’t cruel and evil she is actually incredibly talented.

The story fo
Ooh, ooh, I really want Ms Fox's marketing team. That way I'd become Supernurse Extraordinaire: celebrities would discuss me on television, my research papers would get little Specsavers-sponsored stickers on the front and get their own wee display in the library, and people would flock to my blog on catheterisation (um, OK, maybe not the last one). Ahh, the life I would lead...

Because really, when it boils down to it, this isn't a very good book. Meticulously researched, certainly, but the exec
La sonnambula di Essie Fox è uno dei romanzi pubblicati nel 2011 che più mi ha incuriosito, attratto e, una volta letto, stregato.

Le motivazioni che mi hanno spinto verso questo libro sono molteplici: innanzitutto l’ambientazione scelta dall’autrice per la sua storia, l’Inghilterra vittoriana e l’ambiente dei music hall hanno un fascino misterioso e sempre unico; altro aspetto attraente è la presenza, già dal titolo, del dipinto di Millais raffigurante la ormai celebre sonnambula durante le sue
I stopped reading this about a quarter of the way through. I suspect the problem I had was that I imagine books in a very different way to the author. I think this is the case because I became aware of very precise visual descriptions when I was reading the book. In fact, they began to annoy me a bit. This makes me suspect that Essie Fox imagines books mainly visually and so was giving lots of visual cues to help her readers experience the story. However, I mainly imagine what it would feel like ...more
Mary Aris
Feb 17, 2012 Mary Aris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: The TV Book Club
In her debut novel, The Somnambulist, author Essie Fox writes a gothic tale about seventeen year-old Phoebe Turner living with a puritanical mother, Maude, whose prude ideas and values motivates her to go about East London engaging in activism, vowing to shut down theatres. Phoebe’s Aunt Cissy, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of Phoebe’s mother - an actress and singer performing at Wilton’s Musical Hall. Aunt Cissy takes Phoebe to Wilton’s Musical Hall often and introduces her to man ...more
In Phoebe Turner’s Victorian home hangs a painting. The Somnambulist. It reminds her of her dear Aunt Cissy, a music hall beauty who she wishes were her mother. Instead, Maud is a strict Christian, pounding the streets with the Hallelujah Army and severely disapproving of Cissy’s sinful life as a singer. When Phoebe glimpses the world inside Wilton’s Music Hall one night, she also draws the attention of men who will change her life forever. Soon her family home is at risk and she must move to th ...more
Ant Harrison
The Somnabulist by Essie Fox is another take on the increasingly popular Victorian gothic melodrama. It concerns Phoebe, the daughter of Maud Turner, who lives with her mother and aunt in the east end of London in the 1880s. The backdrop is Victorian music halls and spiritualism, with the usual (very heavy) dose of family secrets, strange happenings, mysterious characters and misplaced lusts.
Fox has written a real potboiler, I guess trying to emulate the melodramas of Collins and Dickens; convo
'Every heart holds a secret'
'Some secrets are better left buried...'
- front & back cover tag lines.

In principle the synopsis for this novel does sound very much the epitome of Victorian Gothic: an innocent girl arrives at a secluded stately home staffed with unwelcoming servants, there is a neurotic mistress of the house still mourning an untimely death, a dash of spiritualism, a ghostly presence, dark and menacing woods and lots of secrets. Yet somehow these ingredients just didn't add up
D.E. Meredith
OK. I'll fess up. I know Essie so that makes it hard to review but I will say in all honesty, I LOVED this book. The characters leapt off the page and it has a wonderful dynamic verve about it. I raced through this novel in just a few days and some of the most powerful scenes - I'm not giving anything away in what is a deftly handled, complex plot - will stay with me a long long time. Shocking family revelations. Dark and light. Sequins on alabaster skin. Nom Nom descriptive writing, here. Lots ...more
Rivisitazione del romanzo gotico, La sonnambula racconta la storia, pieno di melodramma e colpi di scena, di Phoebe Turner, una ragazzina che vive nell'East End londinese (periodo vittoriano, ovviamente) con la madre e la zia Cissy, sorelle amorevoli nonostante l'enorme differenza tra i loro caratteri e la loro scelta di vita: la madre di Phoebe è una donna profondamente religiosa, molto severa e anche abbastanza bigotta, mentre Cissy è una cantante di varietà ed esercita chiaramente un grande f ...more
Lovely and haunting, much like the Millais painting for which it was named — and the cover design, for that matter. Essie Fox has a real gift for both characterization and scene-setting. Her major players are all complex and vividly crafted, and even the descriptions of minor figures have the ring of truth. The historical backdrop reveals the same thoughtful, unaffected attention to detail, complete with theatrical productions, table-tipping and a set of endnotes to distinguish truth from artist ...more
It was okay; I did not particularly care for the story. The main character (told in first person), Phoebe, has practically been brainwashed into thinking she is a gigantic pit of sin and is headed straight for hell... which did not particularly make her easy to identify with or fun to read about. The other main character, Nathan Samuels (told in third person), was slightly more sympathetic, although his pedophiliac tendencies certainly squashed the majority of any goodwill I as a reader felt.
Qui la recensione completa:

Corteggiavo questo romanzo sin da quando è uscito a fine 2011 e devo dire che non ne sono rimasta affatto delusa. Vi anticipo che non racconta una storia originalissima, ma la protagonista, l'ambientazione scelta e lo stile elegante e fluido dell'autrice , lo rendono un bel romanzo storico che ti colpisce e commuove.....
.....Questo libro, oltre ad essere un romanzo storico superbo, grazie alle descrizioni degli ambienti e del cl
well i loved this book. really gripped me from the begining. the story flowed easily had a good plot with many twists amd my half way ending prediction was wrong. that said when i did get to the end i almost felt it was rushed and maybe just a little obvious. the twists and turns were not massive but were intriguing and brought to you slowly giving you time to lead up to it.

Phoebe is a typical teenager having a lot of life thrown at her and growing up all at once. Those around did not help her
The Somnambulist (the sleepwalker) is an attempt at the 'Victorian Gothic' - a genre that plays with ghostly or unearthly elements intruding into the everyday. It's a form that was popular when what is now 'victoriana' was just ordinary, and there's a renewal of interest today, when that element has an added historical cachet.
The novel is quite well set up, with a household of women divided between association with the music hall, and a devotion to the 'Hallelujah Army' (a very thinly disguised
Review with map and photos of the locations in the novel - Somnambulist in London locations

A thrilling journey around the sites and sounds of the theatre and music hall world of Victorian london. The research is impeccable and the sights sounds and smells of the time period are all closely researched and mentioned at the end of the book. A real intro to an exciting time period!

Essie Fox paints Phoebe’s world wonderfully building a very visual and tactile world centered around the old music halls
I love a good tale of the stage, so I was a bit gutted when, in the first chapter, the protagonist decides she is not cut out for performing after all and ditches it after one attempt.
The rest of the book really followed that path, a "secret" so blindingly obvious I'm amazed the author dared drag it out for so long, a crush that begins at the theatre and survives violent sexual assault and incest without much trouble, a surprise paedophile chucked in at the last minute, with absolutely no plot
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Report
  • The Whores' Asylum
  • The Book of Human Skin
  • The Pleasures of Men
  • Gillespie and I
  • The Journal of Dora Damage
  • The Falcons of Fire and Ice
  • The Palace of Curiosities
  • Kept
  • Half of the Human Race
  • The Night Calls
  • Florence and Giles
  • The Seance
  • The Oxford Book of Victorian Ghost Stories
  • The Blackstone Key
  • Mrs. De Winter
  • The Dark Lantern
  • The Sacred River
I've written three Victorian gothic mysteries, all published by Orion Books.

The first, The Somnambulist, was shortlisted for the National Book Awards, was featured on Channel 4's Book Show as one of the best reads of 2013, and has now been optioned for TV/film by Hat Trick Productions.

Elijah's Mermaid, features the hypocrisy in VIctorian art and literature, and how those worlds sometimes overlap
More about Essie Fox...
Elijah's Mermaid The Goddess and the Thief Silence Electric

Share This Book