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The Honeymoon

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  239 Ratings  ·  50 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 Irene 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 Nancy Oakes 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 Fatima 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 Bonnie 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 LS 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 Amy 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.
May 15, 2017 Anne 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
Jun 07, 2017 Amy rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 16, 2016 Laurie 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 Cathy 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 Arja Salafranca 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 Candace 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 Meagan 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 Matthew Flynn 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 Becca Chopra 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 Roman Clodia 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 Easy 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 Laura 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
Jul 22, 2016 Gina rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
A wonderful fictionalised life of George Eliot. It draws on all known facts and events of her life and builds a living, breathing and thinking woman. It charts her childhood and relationship with her siblings, her young single womanhood and emergence into intellectual life. The central love of her life, George Lewes, was married. Their committed and faithful relationship was beautifully depicted. After George’s death she married John Cross, a man 20 years’ younger than Eliot. He was probably hom ...more
Paula Kaufman
Feb 29, 2016 Paula Kaufman rated it it was amazing
George Eliot's writing has touched and entertained generations of readers, from high school students assigned one or more of her novels to adults of all ages who read and enjoy her work, each for his or her own reason. In The Honeymoon, Dinitia Smith draws us into Eliot's life with skill and finesse. She transforms the results of her extensive research into a novel every bit as compelling as Eliot's own. For the reader not looking for a superficial read, akin to a Hallmark movie, the Honeymoon o ...more
Patricia Rohrer-walsh
Aug 09, 2016 Patricia Rohrer-walsh rated it it was amazing
While Smith begins with the 60-year old Eliot's marriage to a much younger man, the author continually retreats to previous men, especially George Lewes. Amid her affairs, Eliot struggles to make it in the male-dominated worlds of editing, publishing, writing, and translating. Often unpaid and unacknowledged, Eliot perseveres and writes novel after novel--most of which were widely popular during her lifetime and some of which made her rich. The irony of her story is that conventionality and conf ...more
David Dunlap
Jul 19, 2016 David Dunlap rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally Koslow
Jun 06, 2016 Sally Koslow rated it it was amazing
An outstanding example of biographical fiction. Dinitia Smith brings to life Marion Evans, a.k.a. George Eliot and along with many rewarding flashbacks, focuses on her bizarre late-in-life marriage to John Walter Scott, a man twenty years her junior. Was Johnnie manic-depressive? Probably. Did he love Marion? It seems so, in his own way. Was he gay, and involved with his friend Albert? That's something I wish the author had delved into more. Did Marion regret the marriage? Again, I would have we ...more
Susan Zinner
Jul 09, 2016 Susan Zinner rated it really liked it
Examination of the life of Marian Evans (aka George Eliot), well-known author of English classics such as "Middlemarch" and "The Mill on the Floss;" this fictional biography, however, focuses on the end of her life when she (unexpectedly) marries a 40-year-old man (she was 60) who attempted suicide on their honeymoon in Venice. The author does a great job of covering Evan's earlier life in flashback and attempting to make sense of this rather jarring coda to what had been a staid and conventiona ...more
Aug 01, 2016 Richbern rated it it was ok
Another novel that got good reviews and left me saying, "WTF?" A semi-fictional account of the life of author George Eliot, it's framed by the disastrous honeymoon in Venice when she was 60 and her husband was more than 20 years younger. While she copes with his mental illness, she looks back on her life.

Unfortunately, the author has given us the facts of her life--childhood tragedies followed by outcast status followed by worldwide fame--but delivers none of her inner life. It's a shallow, alm
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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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