‘A Curl of Copper and Pearl’ a novel by Kirsty Stonell Walker


Reviewed by William Rose


If you want those Pre-Raphaelite characters to be brought alive in a whole new way, this is the book to read. George Boyce plays an important part, but the one who increasingly dominates, as no doubt he did at the time, is Dante Gabriel Rossetti – the charismatic one, and the romantic, poetic, aesthete par excellence. He was also the devoted, sometimes helpless, follower of the muse and here in Kirsty Stonell Walker’s novel there are three of those. The three main ones in fact: Fanny Cornforth, Jane Morris, and at the centre of this tale and indeed told by her, Alice (Alexa) Wilding. These historical figures are woven into the narrative in such a way that their existence and their personalities feel as real as if we were observing them in the present. The secret must surely be that the writer is able to combine her narrative skills and imaginative flair with a consummate knowledge of Pre-Raphaelite art and its society. She has in fact already written the only biography that exists of Fanny Cornforth. I found this a superb read and felt that I was being given a unique chance to travel a while through the 1860s and in the company of those whom I could now experience in a fascinating new way.

A direct link to purchase this book: