Bleaker House by Nell Stevens | Book Review

Bleaker House, written by Nell Stevens, is about a writer who wins a fellowship to research and write a book anywhere in the world, all-expenses-paid. She chooses to spend her fellowship in one of the most desolate parts of the world: Bleaker Island, a snowy penguin-filled island off the coast of Argentina.

As a writer who is currently working on a book while social distancing, I felt like this book was made for me at this present moment.

I read this book in about four days — which is lightning speed for me. When I’m choosing to read a book over playing Animal Crossing or watching Ramy on Hulu, I know I’m into it. And, y’all, I was drawn into this book.

We Stan Vivid Imagery & a Unique Structure

The imagery sucked me in from page 1. Nell Stevens paints a vivid world with her prose that instantly brought me into her world. This is even more true when she’s describing Bleaker Island. The island was a character within itself. Stevens constantly interacted with the erratic environment of Bleaker Island in new and exciting ways that brought the story alive even when she was the only character.

I also enjoyed the unique structure of Bleaker House. Its chapters alternated from fiction to non-fiction. There are chapters of her at Bleaker Island and the surrounding areas, chapters about her past living in London and Boston, and fictional short stories she wrote. The string that wove all the chapters together was her writing style and word choice, which felt poetic in nature and honest.

The Streets Need a Short Story Collection

I really enjoyed her short stories. I would read a short story collection penned by her in a heartbeat. Each story is mysterious, like a Black Mirror episode.

As you read, you can sense the slight oddity of the situations that the characters are in. By the story’s end, it usually leads to a surprising conclusion.

I Loved Bleaker House: Here’s Why

At its core, Bleaker House is the author’s origin story.  I love learning more about other writers and their unique process to get essentially the same thing: words on a page.

Writing, by nature, is isolating. It is a struggle to find those who share your passion for words. But, reading a book like Bleaker House, reminds me that I’m not alone in my desire to become a writer. A career in writing can be quite difficult at times to upkeep, but if it’s your passion, you should run with it.

I recommend this book to you, especially if you’re a writer. If you are a writer during the COVID-19/social distancing age, I double recommend this book. The author experiences an intense period of isolation during Bleaker House that I felt for and related to.

To learn more about Nell Stevens and Bleaker House, check out the author’s website here.

Also, Shakespeare and Company Bookshop did a great interview with author Nell Stevens, check it out below:

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What are you planning on reading during August? Let me know in the comments section below.


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