Coming in September: Louisa Treger’s Debut Novel The Lodger – “An Intriguing Blend of Fact and Fiction”
Presenting The Lodger by Louisa Treger, the first biographical novel about Dorothy Richardson, peer of Virginia Woolf, lover of HG 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 HG 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 signaling 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 freefalls 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. Amid 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.
“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.” – Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of The Duchess
About the author
Born and raised in the UK, Louisa Treger has South African roots that go deep. Her late mother was from Durban, and her husband was brought up in Johannesburg. She is still deeply connected to South Africa and spends as much time as she can here with her family.
Treger began her career as a classical violinist in London. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Illness forced her to take a year’s sabbatical, but it was possibly the best thing that could have ever happened, because it gave her the opportunity to rethink her life: she realised that she wanted to work with words, not music.
Treger earned a First Class degree and a PhD in English at University College London, where she focused on early twentieth century women’s writing. The birth of three children in quick succession meant a hiatus in her working life, but once they were settled in school, she turned to writing fiction with the sense that this was what she’d been born to do.
Treger’s first novel, The Lodger, will be launched in South Africa by Pan Macmillan in September. A significant part of the book was conceived and written in Plettenberg Bay, which Louisa regards as one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and an inspiring place to write.
The Lodger is the first biographical novel about the largely forgotten but fascinating author, Dorothy Richardson, who was a peer of Virginia Woolf and pioneered a new style of fiction that became known as “stream of consciousness”. The novel covers a brief, dramatic period in Dorothy’s life, during which she has an affair with HG Wells, discovers her bisexuality and independence, and finds her voice as a writer.
Treger divides her time between London and Plettenberg Bay, where the family has a home. She is a passionate supporter of a feeding scheme for underprivileged children living in Kurland Village in the Western Cape, where 70 percent of adults are unemployed.
Praise for The Lodger
“In this intriguing blend of fact and fiction, Treger’s debut novel explores the socially unacceptable loves of little-read author Dorothy Richardson in early 20th-century London … deftly examining moods ranging from exhilaration to sexual longing to despair to shame.” — Publishers Weekly
“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
“Louisa Treger’s 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
“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, New York Times bestselling author of The American Heiress
“The Lodger is an evocative, beautifully written first novel. Dorothy Richardson’s journey to finding her own literary feet … is moving and revealing. A very accomplished debut novel.” – New York Times bestselling author 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