“Unto This Last is a masterpiece, a truly staggering piece of work that deserves to be read far and wide. It is quite a tome of a book, one that requires pace and attention to detail, but the time devoted to its reading is worth every minute. An extraordinary and breath-taking read.”
“This novel enchanted me. Deeply researched and charmingly written, it resurrects not only John Ruskin, one of the most influential characters of the Victorian age, but his fascinating pupil Rose La Touche, who is portrayed so sensitively that you feel as though you know her. Highly recommended.”
“This is an atmospheric and utterly convincing novel. We are taken into Mid-Victorian England, not merely the society but the life and consciousness of John Ruskin – one of the most important writers of the nineteenth century. Rebecca Lipkin has dug deep – has taken on the difficult story of his relationship with Rose La Touche, tackling the subject with great empathy in prose that is both detailed and vivid. A considerable achievement.”
“Unto This Last draws the reader into the world of John Ruskin at a deeply felt, painful time in his life. Rebecca Lipkin’s thoughtful novel about this complicated man – and his often confusing world – is a pleasure to read and a very welcome addition for all lovers of Pre-Raphaelitism.”
“Spanning twenty years, this book has it all; love, loss, tragedy, humour, secrets and plenty of drama…Unto This Last is an accomplished and astounding read…a masterful debut novel and I can’t wait to see what Rebecca Lipkin writes next.”
“In keeping with the great Victorian novels themselves, it feels substantial and weighty, retaining the writing style while also being compelling and readable…Lipkin has taken a figure from the Victorian era and breathed life into him…a gloriously lavish, engaging and immersive book.”
“This book is a tour de force…Researched in immaculate and often uncomfortable detail, this is a book that takes you to the heart of Ruskin’s life and motivations, turning the spotlight not only on him but on the women of his story too.”
“An incredible experience to read, a moving and honest account of devotion…This is an overwhelming novel…a multi-layered picture of a special relationship in fiction, answering some questions and raising so many more as the reader becomes totally involved in the story of Ruskin and the much admired Rose.”
“This epic story has something for everyone; art, literature, love, scandal and a real sense of its setting in both time and place…this intriguing and original book transports you back into Ruskin and Rose’s lives and allows you to get to know real characters from history…you will be amazed how much some of his thoughts and emotions will resonate with you – even if he was living, breathing and loving a century ago.”
“Utterly entrancing…a fascinating and rich story that takes you back in time. This is one novel that will stay firmly on my bookshelves…It holds so much that each new reading will bring something new. Sublime.”
“Lipkin does his life, the disparity between the way historians regard him, and the way he was both perceived and he perceived himself, absolute justice. It’s actually strange to think of it as a fictional account, albeit one based on factual events, records and historical records, because Lipkin seems to capture him so well.”
“Very well written…in the style of a period novel while also managing to maintain a degree of self-awareness that allowed for a more critical eye on a range of topics such as mental health and Victorian attitudes in reference to women…a substantial and fascinating read that provides a considered look at the life and work of John Ruskin.”
“Unto This Last is an extensively researched novel, full of detail. It provides a fascinating glimpse into one man and his social milieu. I knew little about John Ruskin before I began reading, but I am now tempted to read some of his works for myself.”
“Reading Unto This Last took me back in time to a rich Victorian period. The beautiful prose and complex, three-dimensional characters were so fascinating…This is such a strong literary work. I feel like I could talk and talk about how great this book is, but I would rather wish you to experience it yourself. A masterpiece.”
“I must express my heartfelt thanks for your novel, Unto This Last. I haven’t read a book so avidly for years! I have been an admirer, nay, devotee, of Ruskin for almost as long as I can remember but I now understand him and his relationships so much more clearly.”
“This engaging, absorbing, totally immersive novel is both readable and beautifully written. I am the author of two books on Victorian literature (under Nicola Thompson) and have a PhD in Victorian Literature, so I am a demanding reader!”
“Unto This Last is a work of art in itself and the incredible research by Rebecca Lipkin has not gone un-noticed. We gain an insight to the complex life of John Ruskin the prominent thinker and philanthropist.”
“Men ought to be severely exercised and disciplined in daily life, they should learn to lie on stone beds and eat black soup, but they should never have their hearts broken. A noble heart, once broken, never mends.”
London, 1858. Passionate, contradictory, and fiercely loyal to his friends, John Ruskin is an eccentric genius, famed across Britain for his writings on art and philosophy.
Haunted by a scandalous past and determined never to love again, the 39-year-old Ruskin shuns polite society in favour of a quiet existence at Denmark Hill, the home he shares with his domineering parents.
Reluctantly accepting a request by an Irish aristocrat to tutor her daughters in art, Ruskin becomes infatuated with his enigmatic student, Rose La Touche, an obsession with profound consequences that will change the course of his life and work.
Written in a style recalling Victorian literature and spanning a period of 20 years, the story poses questions about the nature of love, the boundaries of parenthood, and compatibility in marriage.
Unto This Last is a portrait of Ruskin’s tormented psyche and reveals a complex and misunderstood soul, longing for a life just out of reach.
About the Author
Rebecca has had a passion for Victorian art and literature from a young age. She first discovered John Ruskin through E.M. Forster’s novel, A Room with a View, and later joined the Ruskin Society at the age of seventeen to learn more about Ruskin’s work. Rebecca pursued a career in journalism, specialising in arts writing and theatre reviews, and has worked for a number of national publications.
Rebecca says, “Most accounts of John Ruskin’s complex personal life focus on his brief marriage to Effie Gray, but his twenty-year relationship with Rose La Touche was of huge importance to the evolution of his thinking; it is a captivating and tragic story of two people whose loving friendship transcended boundaries and conventions to the very end.”