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Briefly, A Delicious Life

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An unforgettable debut novel from an award-winning writer: a lively, daring ghost story about a dead teen girl who falls in love with a female writer who has no idea she exists.

In 1473, fourteen-year-old Blanca dies in childbirth in a hilltop monastery in Mallorca. Nearly four hundred years later, when George Sand, her two children, and her lover Frederic Chopin arrive in the village, Blanca is still there: a spirited, funny, righteous ghost, she’s been hanging around the monastery since her accidental death, spying on the monks and the townspeople and keeping track of her descendants.

Blanca is enchanted the moment she sees George, and the magical novel unfolds as a story of deeply felt, unrequited longing—the impossible love of a teenage ghost for a woman who can’t see her and doesn’t know she exists. As George and Chopin, who wear their unconventionality, in George’s case, literally on their sleeves, find themselves in deepening trouble with the provincial, 19th-century villagers, Blanca watches helplessly and reflects on the circumstances of her own death (which involves an ill-advised love affair with a monk-in-training).

Charming, original, and emotionally moving, this is a surprisingly touching story about romantic fixation and a powerful meditation on creativity.

Nell Stevens writes memoir and fiction. She is the author of Bleaker House and The Victorian & the Romantic, which won the 2019 Somerset Maugham Award. She was shortlisted for the 2018 BBC National Short Story Award. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Vogue, The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books, The GuardianGranta, and elsewhere. Nell lectures in creative writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Briefly, A Delicious Life is her first novel.