Maggie Humm has crafted a novel that draws inspiration from one of the best known and most beloved novels of Virginia Woolf, To The Lighthouse. The original story was itself inspired by the life of the author and her time in St. Ives, Cornwall in the summers of her youth. Humm has taken the character of Lily Briscoe and provided an extension on her story. Talland House is a story that lovers of literature, especially those who love Virginia Woolf.
Lily is no longer a student and has gone through a variety of stages in her life. She has been a suffragette and a nurse in WWI, now she is an artist and a successful one at that. With her art displayed at the Royal Academy she feels as though she has made it beyond her concerns stemming from her substitute mother’s seeming dislike of a portrait she created or the failure of her tutor Louis Grier to sweep her away. In 1919 she is surprised when Louis arrives and shares with her the terrible news that Mrs. Ramsay has died suspiciously. Lily must contend with the knowledge that there is something she must learn about Mrs. Ramsay’s death and possibly the violent behavior of Mr. Ramsay and the fact that it seems she is still in love with Louis Grier.
The story within Talland House takes place between 1900 and 1919 in both Cornwall and in London. We are able to see Lily outside of her character within the original Woolf story and as someone who is finding her way and exploring the world. This is a well crafted story that draws from the rich source material and expands on it in a way that makes this feel like a piece of the canon. We are able to see the growing independence of Lily within the historical context of this period and in our own way for the expansion of women’s roles in the world. You can pre-order your copy of Talland House today.