Mrs. Engels

by McCrea, Gavin, 1978-

Format: Print Book 2015
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 6 copies
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CLP - Main Library First Floor - Fiction Stacks FICTION McCrea
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"The illiterate lover and eventual wife of a coauthor of The Communist Manifesto is the star of this enthralling work of historical fiction." -- O: The Oprah Magazine

"Lizzie has been brought to life with exuberant force." -- The New York Times

"Impressive. . . . A memorable portrait of a woman looking for a cause of her own, distinct from the one made famous by her husband." -- The Wall Street Journal

"Lizzie is as spirited a narrator as a reader could hope to encounter." -- The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Very little is known about Lizzie Burns, the illiterate Irishwoman and longtime lover of Frederick Engels, coauthor of The Communist Manifesto. In Gavin McCrea's debut novel, Lizzie is finally given a voice that won't be forgotten.

Lizzie is a poor worker in the Manchester, England, mill that Frederick owns. When they move to London to be closer to Karl Marx and family, she must learn to navigate the complex landscapes of Victorian society. We are privy to Lizzie's intimate, wry views on Marx and Engels's mission to spur revolution among the working classes, and to her ambivalence toward her newly circumstances.

Yet despite their profound differences, Lizzie and Frederick are drawn together in this high-spirited love story.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "*Starred Review* Illiterate Irishwoman Lizzie Burns is the lover of Frederick Engels, coauthor of The Communist Manifesto. But unlike Engels and his comrade Karl Marx, she does not romanticize poverty, having been raised in mean circumstances, and is grateful for her much-improved station. Engels funds Marx's great cause with the profits from his cotton mill in working-class Manchester, and in 1870, he and Lizzie move to a grand house in London to be nearer to the Marxes. Her discomfort with the servants and exclusion from Engels' social circle and from his activism only serve to make her feel more deeply her impoverished background. Lizzie, pragmatic and opinionated, takes note of Marx's carbuncles and his wife Jenny's propensity to act the drama queen, but beneath her stinging appraisals, she is tenderhearted, grieving the death of her sister, Engels' previous lover, and pining for her lost love, Irish rebel Moss O'Malley. First-novelist McCrea well captures Lizzie's fiery temperament, vivid voice, and complicated relationship with Engels, whom she both longs to marry and longs to be free of. Moving, finely detailed, rife with full-bodied, humanizing portraits of historical icons, and told in striking prose, this is a novel to be savored.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2015 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "McCrea's richly imagined debut novel is narrated by Irishwoman Lizzie Burns, the longtime lover of The Communist Manifesto coauthor Frederick Engels. In 1870, the couple leaves Manchester (where the wealthy Engels family once employed Lizzie at their cotton mill) to reside in London. Lizzie's new life is opulent but empty: she is uncomfortable with upper-class society and excluded from most of Frederick's activities, including his cerebral efforts to liberate her own class. Struggling to find a purpose, Lizzie seeks out her old flame, the Irish radical Moss O'Malley, whose cause always needs funds. She attempts to help the illegitimate son that Frederick had two decades before and seems to have forgotten. Even as she fights for others, Lizzie nurses wounds of her own: she longs to be married, despite Frederick's disdain for such conventions, and she fears that he will never forget her deceased sister Mary, who was his former lover. McCrae gives the illiterate Lizzie a vivid, convincing voice, sparkling with energy and not untouched by pathos. Her sharp, pragmatic observations offer a human perspective on historical icons (Marx has boils, while Engels is overwhelmed by letters from his mother). But the heart of the novel is the beautifully realized romance between Lizzie and Frederick: a mismatch of values and temperaments, yet also a tender and complex bond. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Engels, Friedrich, -- 1820-1895 -- Family -- Fiction.
Working class -- England -- London -- Fiction.
Social classes -- Fiction.
Biographical fiction.
Publisher New York :2015
Language English
Description 389 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN 9781936787296
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