It is 1885, a tempestuous - and pivotal - year in Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing life. At ‘Skerryvore’, a Bournemouth villa perched at the edge of a chalky ravine, his wife, Fanny, sets about making ‘labyrinthine paths’, while Stevenson struggles to reconcile illness, entrapment, marital discord and lack of funds with his drive to write.
The House on the Chine goes behind the façade of Skerryvore to discover what prompts the ‘doomed and dazzling’ Scottish author to abandon Kidnapped, the ‘boys’ adventure’ he’s working on, and create, before the year is out, his chilling psychological thriller Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
‘It is a terrific read, full of haunting images and beautifully paced.’
‘Stevenson has surely never been rendered so vividly: Sian Mackay blends a biographer’s quest for historical truth with a novelist’s insight and imagination to create a work of striking originality. She lures her readers not only into the hearts and minds of Stevenson, his wife and household, but also into his drawing room, kitchen, study and bedroom, through which family intrigue and famous friends and acquaintances flow, including the Americans, Henry James and John Singer Sargent. The result is memorable: a literary portrait of rare intimacy.’