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Summary

Taking inspiration from two lines in Shakespeare's King Lear, J.R. Thorp spins an unforgettable story about love, motherhood, grief and power.

Set in medieval Britain, Learwife gives voice to one of the most famous female characters ever written out of literary history. Lear's queen has been exiled in an abbey for 15 years, since the birth of her youngest daughter, for an unknown offence. After hearing the devastating news of the deaths of her husband and daughters, the queen enters into a spiral of grief. To occupy her troubled mind, she encourages the women of the abbey into a competition for her approval, a contest that quickly devolves into savagery. Her narrative is interwoven with her memories, as a queen and mother who conceived a family plagued by madness, deceit and tragedy.

Learwife is a thrilling, exquisite and audacious literary debut about a woman thwarted, a woman forgotten, a woman fighting back.

©2021 J.R. Thorp (P)2021 Canongate Books

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What a wonderful debut novel!

I have spent more than a waking day lost in a world with a dreamlike quality, in the mind of a woman I never thought to know. Juliet Stephenson was an inspired choice of reader, and brought Lear’s wife to life for me.
J R Thorp has a descriptive skill which is second to none, and, having finally left the world of the nunnery, a little piece of me is still keeping the garden within, so I can wander with the nuns and hear their chatter as they observe the beautifully drawn character of King Lear’s wife.
I await this author’s next work with great anticipation …

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  • 25-02-22

draws you in

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptive writing really drew you into the the life of Lear's wife in exile and her past life as wife to two kings.
Beautifully read.