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About the Book


This sparse, intense, gorgeously written novel is inspired by the life and work of the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Though not a fictionalized biography, Afterimage is indeed a sensitive, subtly moving historical novel: a story of big ideas, strong passions, aesthetic impulses, and personal secrets. Our heroine is Annie Phelan--young, beautiful, Irish, and naturally but modestly articulate and intelligent--who is the new housemaid at the English country manor of Eldon and Isabelle Dashell. Isabelle, the Cameron figure, comes to regard the common but captivating Annie as not only a friend but a muse, the all-important inspiration for Isabelle's newly imagined photographic artworks. Indeed, Isabelle is physically and emotionally drawn to Annie-compelled to learn from the young maid and confess secrets to her-just as is Eldon, Isabelle's husband, a would-be adventurer who finds in Annie a confidante who shares his dreams of exploring the ends of the earth. Trapped between the two, Annie is in danger of losing her own identity, her own needs and goals. But when disaster suddenly strikes the Dashell estate, Annie asserts herself-and asserts her freedom and brilliance-as only she could.

by Helen Humphreys

  • Publication Date: March 6, 2002
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador
  • ISBN-10: 0312420641
  • ISBN-13: 9780312420642