Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand
A Novel

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Lush, thrilling, and erotically charged, a triumph of suspense and dazzling imagination, Elizabeth Hand's Mortal Love is an extraordinary work that spans more than a century, uniting genius past and present with strange, tensile strands of inspiration, obsession, and lust.

A tragedy that occurs in a hospital for the insane in Frankfurt, Germany, will have repercussions across decades and eras. Several weeks after the death of a female patient in a terrible fire, the poet Algernon Swinburne follows a mysterious woman through the shadows toward a remarkable event at once enthralling, stimulating, and terrifying beneath the streets of London. Years later, at the start of a new century, a struggling young artist, Radborne Comstock, is introduced to a ravishing beauty who immediately becomes his muse, his desire, and his greatest torment. It is a legacy of pleasure and madness that will be passed down to his grandson, the dilettante actor Valentine Comstock, who is plagued by disturbing and increasingly erotic visions. And in the present day a journalist named Daniel Rowlands is seduced by the bewitching and mercurial Larkin Meade, who holds the key to lost artistic masterpieces, and to secrets too devastating to imagine.

What connects these men -- and others whose grand destinies are to imagine and create -- is one woman. Eternal, unknowable, the very ideal of beauty and desirability, she exists somewhere beyond the boundaries of time, a sensuous dream of flesh and fantasy to inspire or destroy, an immortal lover ... or an angel of death.


About Elizabeth Hand

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A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North London.
Published June 28, 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks. 384 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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And, contemporary journalist Daniel Rowlands, while researching a study of the romantic story of Tristan and Iseult, becomes smitten with Larkin Meade, a former mental patient whose power over Daniel leads him to the ruins of Sarsinoor, as Hand (Black Light, 1999, etc.) deftly plaits her three na...

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Publishers Weekly

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Hand does a marvelous job of making the ineffable tangible, lacing her tale with references to the work of artists ranging from Algernon Swinburne to Kurt Cobain and capturing the intense emotions of her characters in exquisitely sculpted prose.

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A literary page-turner, this deeply pleasurable eighth novel by the author of the cult classic Waking the Moon is composed of interwoven narratives about three men: Radborne, a poor Edwardian painter;

Aug 02 2004 | Read Full Review of Mortal Love: A Novel

Fantasy Literature

Elizabeth Hand, who famously dealt with the Mother Goddess myth in Waking the Moon and the cult of Dionysus in Black Light, here tackles the subject of the fatal muse: the White Goddess, the lhiannan-sidhe, the Belle Dame Sans Merci.

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Red Room

Whatever the case may be, Mortal Love gives insight as to the world of the creatives and the Muses that support and, in some cases, destroy those whom they love.

Sep 20 2009 | Read Full Review of Mortal Love: A Novel

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