The first biographical novel about Dorothy Richardson, peer of Virginia Woolf, lover of H.G. Wells, and central figure in the emergence of modernist fiction.
Dorothy exists just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist’s office and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie, as he is known to friends.
Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signalling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy is not convinced her friend is happy with this arrangement.
Reluctant to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—striking unconventional Veronica Leslie-Jones, determined to live life on her own terms—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of the militant suffragette movement, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.
The Lodger is a beautifully intimate novel that is at once an introduction to one of the most important writers of the 20th century and a compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires.
“Treger’s writing flows easily and the book is impeccably researched, making this an enjoyable read. Dorothy Richardson may not be a household name, but Treger’s novel does a fine job of showing just how compelling her life was in this novel full of passion, history and literature.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“An intriguing blend of fact and fiction … deftly examining moods ranging from exhilaration to sexual longing to despair to shame.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Louisa Treger’s carefully researched first novel spotlights a neglected pioneer of 20th-century literature: Dorothy Richardson …Treger deftly connects Dorothy’s personal vision with the war against fiction-as-usual conducted by all modernists … It’s an impressive feat to make the act of writing as exciting as a love affair.”
– The Washington Post
“A debut that shows a keen understanding of its protagonist and some significant promise”
– The Independent
“Louisa Treger has brought Dorothy to life in her compelling portrayal of a complex woman living by her own rules”
– The Lady
“Treger has a clear knack for capturing the vivacity of her characters and searing their unique personalities to the page … beautiful, simplistic prose and rich emotionality … a new writer of poise, intelligence, and feeling.”
– Literary Inklings
“Through Treger’s sensitive, poetic writing, The Lodger offers a wonderful study in character growth … a rich portrait of the times and of an unconventional woman’s interior life.”
– Historical Novel Society
“This is a sparkling debut full of passion and verve. Louisa Treger has written an enthralling historical novel about unconventional love, unrecognised genius, and the courage to turn heartbreak into art.”
– Historian and broadcaster Amanda Foreman
“A captivating and tender journey through the sexual explorations, loves and betrayals of Bloomsbury’s Dorothy Richardson.”
– Frances Osborne
“A gripping debut about creativity, forbidden passions and what happens when you break the rules. Dorothy Richardson is a heroine for our time.” – Daisy Goodwin
“The Lodger is an evocative, beautifully written first novel. Set against the backdrop of the early 20th century, Louisa Treger conjures up her characters and the turbulence of an era when women were fighting for emancipation with conviction. Dorothy Richardson’s journey to finding her own literary feet through her illicit relationship with the novelist, HG Wells, is moving and revealing. A very accomplished debut novel.”
– Lucinda Riley
“Louisa Treger has taken us into the heart of Dorothy Richardson’s life choices through a vividly imagined novel, more compelling than any biography.”
– Michael Sherborne, author of HG Wells: Another Kind of Life