Elizabeth Lowry was born in Washington, DC and educated in South Africa and England. She lives and works in Oxford. Her first novel, The Bellini Madonna, was published in 2008 to great acclaim; her second, Dark Water, was published in 2018 and longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. She is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal.
Does art enhance life, or negate it? The painful question runs
through Lowry's portrait of Thomas Hardy, and produces a sombre,
delicate novel, finely judged and full of insight
In The Chosen, Lowry conjures the torments of a writer's life wonderfully. It is full of understanding, shrewd and often lyrical - a thing of beauty and sadness.
*Alison Light, author of Mrs Woolf & the Servants*
Elizabeth Lowry writes like a dream; finely attuned to the hopes, desires and secret hauntings of her characters, she brings them to life like no other writer I know. Every new book from Lowry is a rare treat, best devoured slowly.
'[A] novel which is both a fascinating analysis of Hardy and a powerful and exquisite work of art in its own right . . . her writing is utterly without mercy while also being underpinned by deep compassion . . . Lowry's view of marriage and, more particularly, the creative life is almost unbearably bleak, but her novel is glorious - the best that I have read in several years.
Hardy's doomed first marriage is the subject of this beautifully rendered and poignant novel . . . The prose is exquisite . . . Above all, like many of the best novelists, Lowry understands the intricacies of the human heart.
In this exquisite imagining of the days after Emma's unexpected death, The Chosen excavates Hardy's emotions . . . Felled by the bitterness in her diaries . . .Hardy experiences 'a savage sense of liberty' and overwhelming feelings of loss, beautifully described in Lowry's bellclear, silvery prose.
This novel is exquisitely written and powerfully perceptive, yet never loses sight of its biographical nature.
Deserves to be read by anyone interested in Thomas Hardy or in good literature.
It's a remarkable, mesmeric piece of writing . . . an authentic cri de coeur from a deeply reserved man. There are utterly remarkable passages in The Chosen where something shifts, time seems to alter and language starts to glow. It's rare and quite extraordinary. It feels as though two levels of language like two currents of different salinity are flowing across each other - the sensation is one of looking through the 3rd person narration into Hardy's innermost lived experience, and through or behind those the further layer of the poems themselves, still fluid, in formation in the mind.
*Andrew Greig, author of Rose Nicolson*
A stylistic tour de force . . . Miss this work of art -- and cautionary tale against long-term gaslighting -- at your peril.
The Chosen combines psychological depth with prose of mesmerising beauty. The result is an exquisite double portrait of a marriage and a writer, and the elusively complex relationship between the two. This is a novel of tremendous range, from the elegiac to the humorous to the sublime. Vladimir Nabokov described the best of fiction as "a game of intricate enchantment and deception". In this heartbreaking, life-affirming exploration of the perversity of the human heart and the paradox of creativity, Elizabeth Lowry shows herself the mistress of both.
With remarkable steadiness and fine judgment, Elizabeth Lowry goes right into the midst of this legendary literary maelstrom and opens a space for fiction . . . Slowly and feelingly, the novel pores over questions about the costs of art, refusing to shout out answers, letting many perspectives tell upon each other . . . Where Poems of 1912-13 intensify around single visions, utterly concentrated, The Chosen works by looking around at everything going on in the house. Max Gate is vividly realised in all its tree-shadowed gloominess, gobbling coal and effort, too large yet grimly confining.
A lyrical meditation on love and literary inspiration. Lowry's richly evocative novel plunges the reader into Hardy's day-to-day life at Max Gate, the Dorset house he built for himself, as he rakes over the ashes of his strained marriage and channels his grief into the extraordinary outpouring of creativity that was the "Poems of 1912-13".
*Financial Times (Best Summer Books 2022)*
A wise and beautifully written book
Lowry's theme is the underside of artistic devotion - the monstrousness of the writing life for those closest, or trying to be. In the year in which we lost Hilary Mantel, it's a real joy to have discovered in Elizabeth Lowry another meticulous, restrained and humane chronicler of lives past. I'll be looking out for more of her work.
*The Lonely Crowd (Book of the Year)*
An extraordinary feat of imagination, perception and empathy