Unto This Last by Rebecca Lipkin
Passionate, contradictory, and fiercely loyal to his friends, John Ruskin is an eccentric genius, famed across Britain for his writings on art and philosophy. Haunted by a scandalous past and determined never to love again, the 39-year-old Ruskin becomes infatuated with his enigmatic young student, Rose La Touche, an obsession with profound consequences that will change the course of his life and work.
Written in a style recalling Victorian literature and spanning a period of twenty years, the story poses questions about the nature of love, the boundaries of parenthood, and compatibility in marriage. Unto This Last is a portrait of Ruskin’s tormented psyche and reveals a complex and misunderstood soul, longing for a life just out of reach.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a leading art critic, as well as artist, and also a writer on subjects such as geology, ornithology, botany and architecture. Author Rebecca Lipkin has written an outstanding fictional account of Ruskin’s love affair with Rose La Touch in Unto This Last (Book Guild Publishing Ltd) which is available now and I am extremely grateful to Rebecca Lipkin for sending me a copy before Christmas.
Unto This Last is a remarkable read and Rebecca Lipkin must be congratulated on writing a book on the subject that she has so much passion for. The level of detail is just outstanding. John Ruskin was 39 years of age when he was first introduced to the La Touche family in 1858 and this is where Ruskin was first introduced to Rose La Touche who was just aged ten. But there is much more to this fictionalised account of Ruskin’s troubled life. His marriage to the Scottish painter Effie Gray was difficult as both clearly had very different personalities and Ruskin never wanted to fall in love ever again. That is until he me Rose La Touche.
John Ruskin was a complex man but was fast becoming a renowned art critic and lecturer. The book is split into four parts and runs for 700 pages and covers a twenty-year period but reads beautifully as we follow Ruskin on his travels to parts to some of the most beautiful parts of Europe and back to his home.
As the story progresses Rose is now eighteen and Ruskin is clearly in love with her but this is a relationship that would have a lasting effect on the rest of his life as well as his work. The genius but complex John Rushkin seemed to find peace in architecture and botany. As a reader you feel so connected to Rose La Touche but the story of John Ruskin and Rose La Touche is touching but heartbreaking.
Unto This Last is a work of art in itself and the incredible research by Rebecca Lipkin has not gone un-noticed. We gain an insight to the complex life of John Ruskin the prominent thinker and philanthropist.
*I will be interviewing Rebecca Lipkin about John Rushkin and her book Unto This Last. Details to follow soon.
Unto His Last by Rebecca Lipkin was published by the Book Guild Publishing Ltd and was published on 28th August 2020 and is available to order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org