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The Honeymoon

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  291 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Based on the life of George Eliot, famed author of Middlemarch, this captivating account of Eliot’s passions and tribulations explores the nature of love in its many guises

Dinitia Smith’s spellbinding novel recounts George Eliot’s honeymoon in Venice in June 1880 following her marriage to a handsome young man twenty years her junior. When she agreed to marry John Walter Cr
ebook, 384 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Other Press
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Roger Brunyate
What Inner World?
This is a novel, a product of my imagination inspired by the life and writings of George Eliot. It is an effort to depict her inner world as she lived out her life.
So begins Dinitia Smith's introduction to her novel about the last year and a half in the life of Mary Anne (Marian) Evans who, at the age of sixty, married a man twenty years her junior and traveled to Venice for their honeymoon. It was not a happy occasion, and the novelist known to the world as George Eliot would
Aug 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb I saw prior to reading this novel said that it was about the late-life marriage of George Eliot to a man 20 years her junior. Although this “honeymoon” framed the novel, the bulk of the book told her entire life story focusing on her romantic relationships. The titular marriage had the feel of historical fiction with its characteristic imagined dialogues and other details. But the longer section that reviewed Eliot’s life prior to the marriage had a more biographical tone. Although thi ...more
Nancy Oakes
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Spellbinding - no. I grudgingly finished this for my book group and it reads like it's meant for teen girls. If you're in the US and you want my copy, I will gladly give it to you free and I'll pay postage.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It would be quite simple to categorise this book as a fictionalised biography of Mary Ann Evans. It was much more than that. Smith had written a compelling, absorbing, wonderful novel giving Mary Ann Evans an inner voice, making her as real to us as ourselves. The novel illuminates Eliot’s life (George Eliot is the pen name that she used), but not as we would read it in a biography. She is depicted as a woman who had much love to give. Unfortunately, for much of her life she struggles to find th ...more
I kept forgetting it was a novelized biography. Her story felt very real and I loved this George Eliot every bit as much as I expected to, maybe more.

Fun things I didn't know, or had forgotten, about George Eliot:
(1) She was pretty darn famous in her day. Like, she wore a big lace mantilla (the original oversized sunglasses) so that people wouldn't recognize her. How many authors would you recognize on the street?
(2) She wrote SO. MANY. great novels. Not just The Mill on the Floss, not just Mi
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Honeymoon recounts George Elliot's honeymoon in Venice in June 1880 following her marriage to a handsome young man twenty years her junior. She had met him while recovering from the death of George Henry Lewes, her companion of twenty-six years. She was bereft and questioning her physical decline, her fading appeal to her readers, and the prospect of loneliness. She had been a country girl named Marian Evans and considered too plain to marry. Her mother considered her ugly and told her no ma ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it liked it
This clear-sighted fiction made Marian Evans/George Eliot's biography easy reading, but the danger with these endeavors is that they always invite comparison to the subject's own writing. The novel did inspire a return to MIDDLEMARCH.
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love historical fiction, but this book ultimately fell flat. The author had great raw material, but the story never seemed to come alive. The characters were more like cardboard cutouts than people.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Readers of Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, or any of George Eliot's ponderous and worthy Victorian novels will perhaps be surprised to discover that their author was a woman of easy virtue. Never pretty, Marian Evans began impressing people with her brains early in her life, and various men, usually of the married non-believer in monogamy variety, were moved to take advantage of her emotional and sexual neediness. And that is only one of the surprising revelations of Dinitia Smith's novel. M ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a historical novel based on the life of George Eliot, the great 19th century writer whose real name was Marian Evans. The bookends of the narrative comprise the honeymoon, in late life, of Evans with a much younger husband, Johnnie Cross. In between, the author takes us through the rather remarkable life of a self-educated woman of powerful intellect who makes her way in the world of literature, yet remains terribly vulnerable as a woman in a man's world. The book explores such themes as ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was attracted by the marketing materials to buy this fictionalized account of George Eliot’s life. I knew Eliot was a 19th Century writer, but I’ve never read Eliot and certainly knew nothing about her. Although I may now try to read one or more of her works, unfortunately this novel never captured my imagination. There were many passages where I could appreciate Dinitia Smith’s talent and ability to write descriptive, elegant prose, but the characters just never came to life for me. I plodded ...more
Leslie Day
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading this book.

What an exquisite book. I love how the author describes in detail how George Eliot researches, then writes each one of her books. I felt such empathy with Eliot and her need for love and her generous and caring nature. I never wanted it to end.
This isn't perfect -- the prose is generally quite good, but occasionally veers into high drama or stiltedness, and Marian Evans/George Eliot's character seems to slip a bit during the titular honeymoon -- but I still couldn't put it down. I read the whole thing in the car on the way home from California, and it made the 12-hour drive feel like six. I'm also excited to check out some of the nonfiction sources that Smith mentions in her afterword.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting historical fiction on the life of George Eliot.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I normally love historical fiction. But did not find the focus, nor the writing, of this book to be my preference.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sunnie Evers
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loved it - made me want to dive into George Elliot novels!
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dinitia Smith has done more than written a fictionalized biography of George Eliot; she’s recreated the woman and her world. Eliot- the pen name of Marian Evans, taken because woman authors were not taken seriously back then- lives and breathes in these pages.

The story is framed by what is happening in 1880, when Marian is supposed to be enjoying her honeymoon with John Cross in Venice. She’s not enjoying herself, though; Johnnie- who is twenty years younger than Marian- is behaving oddly, mani
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having never read anything by either George Eliot or Dinitia Smith, it was happenstance that I came to read The Honeymoon, a beautifully written novelization of the life of George Eliot, the pseudonym of Marian Evans,, and specifically of her late life marriage to a much younger man, John Cross. George Eliot’s life occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria, a time of peace, population growth and location, scientific advances and the rise of the middle class.

While the Victorian era is often ta
Arja Salafranca
Feb 28, 2016 rated it liked it
The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith
This beguiling novel is based on the life of George Eliot, the nom de plume of Marian Evans. It opens in her sixtieth year, as arrives in Venice, where she is spending her honeymoon with a man twenty years younger than she: John Walter Cross. But the honeymoon is a troubled one: her new husband seems to be in the grip of a mental illness, feverishly racing across the city, hyper, manic, not the man she knows.
The story moves across time as events on this troubled ho
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Highly readable, very compelling and strangely sad, "The Honeymoon" follows George Eliot (the pen name of Marian Evans) on her one and only marriage trip. Marian is 60 and her husband is 40. She married Johnny Cross following the death of her beloved companion of nearly a quarter century, George Lewes. Johnny and Marian are off to Venice! They've already been mistaken for mother and son a number of times before their arrival, and despite her best efforts, she has been recognized as the most famo ...more
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this not knowing much about George Eliot, apart from the fact that she wrote Middlemarch, Silas Marner, and was pretty famously known to be unattractive. (Poor George Eliot. To grow up hearing that you're too ugly for anyone to marry, so you'd better concentrate on your education so you can support yourself. Just horrible and sad.) Luckily she was also brilliant and pretty resilient, given the number of letdowns she faced, and translated her intelligence into a career as a writer, ed ...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
George Eliot is a female writer from the 1800s.
This book is the story of her honeymoon to her one and only husband when she was 60 and he was 40.
The books starts during the honeymoon, but goes back in time to describe her upbringing and how she grew into an adult and became who she was and how she became one of the greatest authors of the 1800s.
At first I was thinking there were too much back story and not enough in the modern day. As I continued to read I saw why the author fleshed out her life
Matthew Flynn
Jul 08, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
While a mildly interesting concept, The Honeymoon is, frankly, just poorly written. It very much reminded me of essays written by my freshman English classes, the students trying very hard but not having the maturity to write well of adult topics nor the gift to go beyond the obvious. The prose is clunky, the setup non-existent. There is no character development or any true exploration of interior life. I had to laugh at the constant explanations of texts that were self-evident, as when the auth ...more
Becca Chopra
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Long a fan of George Eliot's novels, I was very interested in reading this novelization of her life, particularly focusing on her late-in-life marriage to a handsome man 20 years her junior... and his attempted suicide on their honeymoon in Venice. This phase of her life is not well covered in biographies of Eliot, but Dinitia Smith's conjectures seem probable indeed... and fascinating.

Smith researched the life of Eliot and her family, associates and loves so well, that one genuinely feels you a
Roman Clodia
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a quiet, sensitive book in lots of ways, even as it tells the transgressive story of George Eliot's romantic life. It starts with her marriage when she was 60 to a man twenty years younger and their honeymoon trip to Venice. Eliot (really Mary Ann Evans) was mourning her long relationship with George Henry Lewes, so this is a compromised relationship from the start. And what happens in Venice challenges it further.

Anyone who knows about Eliot's life will be aware of what happens. Smith t
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a biographical novel about the female author George Eliot (1819-1880). Read this as part of a personal goal of reading authors I have missed along the way. Having just completed reading Silas Marner by George Eliot, this book then complemented it nicely.

Biographical novels tend, to me, to be a bit dry and this was no exception, but it did feel quite complete and broad in scope. The author chose to frame this novel with Eliot's very brief marriage at the end of her life to a much younger
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I settled in, ready to be really absorbed by the novel, but in the first few pages a sentence threw a bucket of cold water over my enjoyment. Page 13. "Johnnie went to the door of each one and peaked inside." It's PEEKED, goddamnit. He didn't "peak" inside. Wtf, editor? I was wary as I kept reading (not "weary", which is my second biggest pet peeve misuse) but thankfully I didn't see any other errors. I thought Smith did a wonderful and sympathetic portrait of Marian Lewes/Cross, though I'm real ...more
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Dinitia Smith is novelist, Emmy award-winning filmmaker, and journalist. She worked as a correspondent for The New York Times, specializing in literature and the arts, for 12 years. She has taught at many institutions, including Columbia University.
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