Book Notification

Nell Stevens Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Briefly, A Delicious Life (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Bleaker House (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Victorian and the Romantic / Mrs Gaskell and Me (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The BBC National Short Story Award 2018(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Nell Stevens is an English author of memoirs, biography, and travel books. She is popularly known for her 2022 novel, Briefly, A Delicious Life. Nell is an assistant professor and teaches in the Warwick Writing Program at the University of Warwick School of Creative Arts, Performance, and Visual Cultures. She has two memoirs in her name, Bleaker House (2017) and Mrs. Gaskell and Me (2022). Nell’s debut novel, Briefly, a Delicious Novel, was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2018.

Additionally, she has written for popular publications such as The Vogue, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, and Granta. In 2019, she won the Somerset Maugham Award courtesy of her memoir Mrs. Gaskell and Me. Stevens has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book. She lives in London with her wife and son.

Briefly, A Delicious Life is as good as other Nell Stevens award-winning books. It’s a blend of history with a ghost story and a tale of love in a way that feels new and exciting.

The story narrated the ghost of a 14-year-old girl named Blanca, who died in a monastery in Mallorca in 1473. Blanca has haunted the place ever since and tries to seek revenge for those responsible for her death.

We are then introduced to George Sand, a writer from France, and her sick boyfriend, Frederic Chopin. They traveled to Valldemossa in 1838 to escape the cold of Paris. They hope the sun and warmth of this place will help Chopin get better. They bring along Sand’s two kids and a maid who isn’t happy at all. With no other options, they end up living in an old and cold monastery.

Blanca is fascinated by Sand as she is unlike most women of her time. She smokes cigars, wears pants, and writes amazing books. Even though Sand can’t see or hear Blanca because Blanca is a ghost, Blanca finds ways to make her presence felt. For example, she accidentally knocks over hot drinks. Over the years Blanca has learned a neat trick of sneaking into people’s minds. This enables her to feel what they’re feeling and see their memories. Thanks to this trick, Blanca (and us, reading the story) finds out about Sand’s tough early life, her first marriage, and how she lived freely in Paris, loving who she wanted and writing books that lots of people loved.

Blanca’s trick lets the author tell us about the past and show us different views in a clever way that fits the story.

Blanca admits she enjoys snooping through people’s thoughts. She’s curious about their life-changing moments and, yes, their private, intimate experiences. She fondly remembers her secret meetings with a young monk that marked the end of her innocent youth. These adventures show her cheeky side and longing for the experiences she missed.

Briefly, A Delicious Life is inspired by a quote from Chopin, dreaming of an idyllic summer retreat. But Stevens presents Mallorca not as a paradise. Instead, she describes it as a place filled with hardship and challenges for her characters. The story doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of bad living conditions, sickness, and the hostility of locals towards Chopin and his companions. There’s beauty in the resilience and awakening of the story’s central ghost despite these struggles.

While Chopin might have been the reason for the journey, the women in the story make it captivating. Their lives and struggles resonate deeply, hence drawing parallels to the universal experiences of women across time and place. Stevens explores the texture of daily life, the complexities of love, and the strength found in adversity through these women’s perspectives.

This novel offers a reflection on the human condition that feels both historical and remarkably relevant. In a world often overwhelmed by global crises, Briefly, A Delicious Life invites readers to find kinship in the enduring human emotions and experiences that transcend time. This is a highly recommended read for anyone looking for a story that blends both historical depth with the exploration of life’s enduring truths.

In 2017, Nell Stevens published a memoir titled Bleaker House. This is a unique story about her bold yet challenging journey to write a novel. At 27, Nell was eager to focus on her writing without the usual distractions. Thanks to a fellowship, she got a chance to spend three months anywhere in the world to work on her book. Rather than choosing a busy city or a beautiful beach, she picked Bleaker Island in the Falkland Islands. She thought this cold, remote place would be perfect to concentrate and write 2,500 words a day. Nell hoped to return with a finished novel.

The island was quiet, with just sheep, penguins, and the harsh weather for company. Nell started writing Bleaker House, inspired by the island’s solitude. However, she quickly learned that being alone with a weak internet connection and limited food wasn’t the best way to spark creativity. Nell had brought only as much food as she could fit in her suitcase, which meant surviving on 1100 calories a day.

As Nell shares her island adventure, she also sprinkles bits of fiction from the novel she was trying to write. The memoir is funny because it shows how hard and sometimes silly the writing process can be. Nell thought she could escape distractions and focus on her book. But she soon learned that escaping herself was not possible. Her story flips back and forth between her real-life experiences and the fictional world of her novel. This offers the reader a detailed view of how both worlds mirror each other.

Bleaker House is more than just a travel story or a writing guide. It’s a heartfelt, humorous look at a young writer’s dreams and struggles. Nell’s journey becomes a story, making us think about the creative process and the lengths we go for our passions. With honesty and humor, Nell’s attempt to write a novel on a remote island turns into an insightful exploration of what it means to create and how, sometimes, the best stories come from the most unexpected places.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Nell Stevens

Leave a Reply