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Parallel Lives Reviews

Parallel Lives by Phyllis Rose, Sheila Heti

Parallel Lives

Five Victorian Marriages

Phyllis Rose, Sheila Heti

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Daunt Books
Publisher: Daunt Books
Publication date: 19 Mar 2020
ISBN: 9781911547525
4 stars out of 5
9 Apr 2020

"a classic study of five couples is remodelled for our times"

Parallel Lives illuminates the mechanisms by which the stories we tell – about our own lives as well as those of people long dead – are structured by our own need for narrative fulfilment, and vice versa. It might not be enough to rescue the Catherine Dickenses of the world, but it teaches us to look at who, in the official marital record, is playing the role of narrator.


4 stars out of 5
Laura Freeman
12 Mar 2020

"Reading Rose is like being called up by an old friend with the latest gossip on the couple next door"

Couples therapy, then, with Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle (married, impotent, enduring); Effie Gray and John Ruskin (married, unconsummated, divorced); Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill (married, sexless, intellectually intimate); Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens (married, ten children, separated, acrimonious); and George Eliot and George Henry Lewes (unmarried, devoted, till death do us part). If this is a book about who to marry and how to stay married, it is also a book about how to write — solitary, selfish — within a partnership. It is about power, sex, shared bedrooms and who goes out to bat against the neighbours when the cockerel starts crowing at dawn.