Briefly, A Delicious Life tells the story of Frederic Chopin and George Sand’s brief and mostly disastrous stay in an empty monastery in Valldemossa in Mallorca in 1838.
The novel is narrated by Blanca, the ghost of a girl who has been at the monastery ever since her death over 300 years previously. Blanca’s is a life cut short and she is outraged. Having lived in a world full, according to her mother, of ‘beautiful men’, she has found that in death it is the women she falls for, their beauty she cannot turn away from, and it is the women and girls who, over her centuries in the village and at the monastery, she has sought to protect from the attentions of men with what little power she has – bread crumbs in a soup here (for her gluten-intolerant victim), a knocked ink pot there, and once even a heart attack. And then George Sand arrives, this beautiful woman in a man’s clothes, and Blanca is in love.
Briefly, A Delicious Life by Nell Stevens is richly witty and enormously moving. It is a novel about convention and breaking convention, about love – yearning love, secret love, forbidden and unrequited love – about art and creativity and about men and women and the violence they mete out to one another. For fans of How to Be Both and The Liar’s Dictionary.