afterimage - a novel by helen humphreys

afterimage   (2000)

  • winner of the 2000 rogers writers' trust fiction prize
  • shortlisted for the commonwealth writers' prize
  • a new york times notable book of the year

inspired by the life of julia margaret cameron, afterimage is a bold and provocative victorian love story. when annie phelan arrives at the home of isabelle and eldon dashell to work as a maid, she encounters a marriage long grown distant. isabelle is experimenting with the new art of photography, and is inspired by annie, who becomes a muse to her mistress. the two form a close relationship, but when eldon devises his own plans for the young maid, annie nearly loses herself, until disaster reveals her power over the dashells' work and hearts.

"accomplished… humphreys delves boldly into the tumultuous victorian era, bringing to life an aristocratic couple ravaged by the intensity of their aesthetic obsessions."
the washington post
"lyrical… this beautifully written novel edges toward saying something profound about the relationships between art and life, men and women, the powerful and the disempowered."
the economist
"in afterimage, every phrase is succinct, every sentence perfectly balanced. so beautifully written, it leaves its own lasting, poetic image on the mind."
the times (london)
"afterimage wonderfully suggests the texture of victorian life, as well as the intensity of emotion generated between artist and subject."
usa today
"brilliant… immensely touching… annie, despite her resemblance to mary hillier, the young housemaid who was cameron's most frequent model, is fully imagined and gloriously herself."
the new york times book review
"the book has a compelling afterimage of its own. what remains is a vivid impression of annie, in its own way as haunting as the photographs that inspired her."
time out (new york)
"the atmosphere that encloses this evolving love triangle is sometimes erotic, sometimes poignant, and always complicated by victorian class issues… humphreys… has an impeccable command of imagery, and her prose finds strength in its subtlety."
publishers weekly
"… masterfully crafted, complex, intelligent… a beautiful and accomplished novel."
the globe and mail
"lushly suspenseful and tender… afterimage demands close attention."
chicago tribune
"inspired by the work of julia margaret cameron, this urgent, well-made novel charts the boundaries where light becomes shadow, and the known can suddenly appear awful and astonishing…"
the new yorker
"a beautiful, powerful and accomplished novel."
the national post
"a breath of fresh air… humphreys teases out a compelling tale."
the guardian

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