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Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  93 reviews
The Scottish beauty Effie Gray is the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in an unconsummated union. She would fall in love with her husband’s protégé, John Everett Millais, and inspire some of his most memorable art, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her.

Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published May 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  565 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Start your review of Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais
A wonderfully written account of Effie Millais' life and a great depiction of what Victorian England must have been like.
Suzanne Fagence Cooper writes a story using Effie's Letters to and from her family and friends, her and her husbands diaries.

When I first picked up 'Effie' in Waterstones,I was expecting some great love affair-But it's more then that. It's the woman behind the two men she called husband. After finishing the book, I felt an acute sense that I knew Effie and I really felt for
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I've always admired Pre-Raphaelite art and I'd heard a few things here and there about Effie Gray, the wife of painter John Everett Millais, but I had no idea that she'd been through so much grief with her first husband, the critic John Ruskin.

Ruskin never consummated his marriage to Effie; he had a taste for slender young girls in early adolescence. "John Ruskin loved young girls, innocents on the verge of womanhood. He became enchanted with twelve-year-old Effie when she visited Herne
Just watched a movie based on this three characters, written by Emma Thompson.

A look at the scandalous love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his teenage bride Effie Gray, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This account is about three prominent people in Victorian England. Effie married a man who was abusive and refused to consummate their relationship. She sued for an annulment which was unheard of at the time. He was an up-and-coming art critic. She and one of her first husband's associates, a famous painter in his own right, fall in love, marry & have 8 children. The book explores these and other close relationships with a watchful eye.

The book is also about what it was like to live in
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent look into the life of Effie Grey, who is primarily known for her marriages in the world of Victorian art. Cooper had unprecedented access to Effie's letters, generously lent by the Millais family. For the most part, Cooper makes excellent use of them as she untangles Effie's first, and rather troubled, marriage to John Ruskin. Ruskin's voice is so powerful and so authoritative even all these years later that it is a joy to finally hear Effie, to get her side of the tale. ...more
Brenda Clough
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, although possibly not organized in the best way. Flashbacks are confusing.
Sep 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Such a fascinating book about art and women in Victorian England. I would have liked to go more in depth in some areas, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Effie Gray, from her disastrous first marriage to her life as the wife, social secretary, and business advisor to the greatest painter of the Victorian age. Particularly valuable is Cooper's defence of Millais's development out of the PRB, though I could have done with much more depth.

A great book for any fan of Pre-Raphaelites,
This audiobook kept my attention throughout, but I felt the earlier, John Ruskin-centered passages were more interesting than the later parts about Effie's marriage to Millais and her children. However, with the audiobook, you don't get to see the pictures which I assume were in the book (it is in part about an artist and his models) and it is hard to judge whether the author is over-dramatizing incidents. I suspect, however, that much if not all of the description is supported by the parties' ...more
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A fluent, easy-to-read biography of this strong, charismatic woman. There are interesting insights into the role of the Victorian wife too and the business-like manner in which Everett Millais was forced to live his life.
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This story would never have been told if a lifetime of correspondence had not been preserved. What a fascinating life Effie had compared to the women of her day.
Michelle Long
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Easy to read, engaging, not overly long, and well researched.
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during "This" Summer: A Lauren Willig Theme Month for the release of That Summer (May 2014)

Effie Grey thought that in marrying the erudite author and art critic John Ruskin that she was entering a life of parties and soirees peopled by the elite of London. Instead this young Scotch girl entered a loveless marriage where she was repeatedly berated and belittled not just by her husband but by her in-laws as well. She suffered
What a fascinating biography of someone who has interested me for some years.

Effie Gray, who found that John Ruskin's ideas of a wife and marriage were not hers; nor would they have been most people's. The author does try to be fair to Ruskin, but his choice to not consummate the marriage, and his preference for his parents' company over his wife's certainly did not make him an ideal husband. Poor Effie who was so embarrassed by her continued virginal state that she couldn't even bring herself
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have known about the strange story of Effie Ruskin Millais, and I appreciated reading the details of Effie’s life from beginning to end.
Overall, a good read, but frustrating because there are no pictures!
The book alludes to Effie and her sisters acting as John Everett Millais muses, but I had to look up each work as it was mentioned. There’s a lot of discussion in the book about how Millais poured out his love for Effie onto his canvases as he fell more deeply in love with her. But, it was
Ginna Kaiser
This was good at first, I then felt like it would never end.I felt like about 35% of the way in they should have put in what Everett & Effie's relationships was like, how their marriage & children fared, where they ended up, etc. & ended it about 5% later. There were way too many details & I am a details gal. Instead of describing photographs or paintings, couldn't the author have included them?

After around Chapter 8 I just got lost in the long-running details.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Couldn’t put this one down once I started it. So many of my “friends” were mentioned here...and I had no idea they had such Intimacies with Ruskin! I really enjoyed diving into some of the pairings of Millais as well as finding the geographical places included in the book.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
It’s a strange book in the second half, when events seem to bounce around quite a bit. It gets a little incoherent at times.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
REALLY enjoyed this book. It's been many years since I've read it, would gladly read again. :)
This was really interesting. I knew little about any of these people except for what was shown in "Desperate Romantics". What interesting lives they all lived. What a strong person Effie Gray was.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Some editing issues and bit of an odd timeline but really interesting and moving.
Nigel Maskell
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Drawing largely on personal correspondence an informal telling of the life of Effie is something of a page turner.
I really enjoyed this book! The Pre-Raphaelites are one of my favorite periods of art, so I’m always glad to read a story related to them. Effie Gray was a beautiful educated young woman when she married art critic John Ruskin at age 19. Ruskin had become obsessed with her at age 12, but when he saw her on their wedding night, it was not what he had expected. I did some research on him after reading the book and it looks like he was not homosexual as some have suggested but may have been a ...more
Suzanne Fagence Cooper's Effie Gray is a biography on one of the central figures of a Victorian scandal. Effie was married to John Ruskin in what seemed like a promising match but what soon became a stifling, abusive marriage. She managed to get an annulment of the grounds of non-consummation, but doing so damaged her own reputation, at a time when reputation and standing ere everything. The only consolation is that Ruskin's reputation was damaged as well and unhelped by his own behaviour. Effie ...more
Annemieke Windt
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was one of the stories that stood out when I took a course in Victorian History at university, now twenty years ago. The story of John Ruskin and his wife Effie Graywho annuled their marriage because it was never consumated. At the time it seemed to sum up for me the strange relationship English Victorian society had with marriage and sexuality, together with the other story that a husband murdered his wife and afterwards wrote in his diary that she was 'with the Lord'.

Effie, the Passionate
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really interesting. So much to think about - women's roles in Victorian England, the staggering size of families and surrounding issues, the marriage market, the social production of art, etc etc. Such a special time and a great choice of subject to get into it all: She was right in the thick of it, and an outsider simultaneously. Euphamia "Effie" Gray is a fascinating character, strong and quite sure of what she wants. Her first marriage could absolutely have destroyed a weaker woman. ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
In the novel, The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, author Suzanne Fagence Cooper takes us into Victorian England, Venice, Italy, Scotland, and into the heart of the scandal that haunted poor Effie her entire life.

Based upon a treasure of preserved letters, Cooper has recreated Effie’s life in great detail. The book is a comprehensive commentary on the life of this fascinating young woman who had been so shamed and berated because of her first husband’s neglect. I liked the fact that three
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very readable and fascinating account of two marriages and the contrasts between them.
As one of the husbands is John Ruskin and the other is one of Britain's greatest painters, John Everett Millais, the fascination is more than doubled.
I've read much criticism of Effie Gray and her influence on Millais and I had been inclined to agree with it, but this book did much to make me take a far more sympathetic view of her and to revise my ideas on the development of Millais as an artist.
I had to
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always knew there was something strange about Ruskin's marriage but I'd no idea how strange it was. This tells all the convolutions of that marriage and the joy of her real marriage to John Everett Millais. Effie was the eldest child of her parents who had 14 more, although only about half grew to adulthood. Effie (Euphemia) had a eight herself and lost a son when he was 20 and a still born child. As is the case with any large family it is sometimes difficult to keep siblings & offspring ...more
Kimberly Schlarman
Effie was what I had hoped American Bloomsbury could have been. Cooper successfully captured the spirit of the painters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood while telling the story of an intriguing love triangle. I was already familiar with the story of Effie and her husband the writer and art critic John Ruskin. They never consummated their marriage and it was quite scandalous when Effie decided to divorce him. Cooper included some feminist analysis of the lives of early Victorian women and the ...more
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Dr. Suzanne Fagence Cooper was educated at Merton College, Oxford, Christie's Education and the Courtald Institute before becoming the Victoria & Albert Museum Research Fellow at Buckinghamshire New University in 1999. Her involvement with the V&A dates back to 1996, when she was appointed curator, and in 2001 she co-curated the V&A's major exhibition 'The Victorian Vision.'

“dusk fell, and then she was taken” 0 likes
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