Frederic Ashton Thorpe and his best friend, Henry Winstone, are artists immersed in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, with its yearning for romantic escape from the materialism of Victorian society. Seeing a half-finished portrait of the beautiful Eleanor Farnham at Henry’s studio, Fred is fascinated and returns in order to meet her. He and Ellie fall in love and are married.
But every heart hides a secret and both Fred and Ellie have put certain events behind them – events that, if exposed, could threaten their blissful new life. After her mother’s death, Ellie inherits the Crimson Bed, a family heirloom passed down through the female line since Elizabethan times. With the bed come ancestral secrets that will eventually affect Ellie as much as the unhappy memories from her own past. Meanwhile, Fred is haunted by shameful memories of his own, that lead him into the darkness of the London slums and a very different world to that of his peaceful home.
As a brilliant and talented artist, Henry is beginning to experience success and fame, but his life is haunted by tragedy and loss. Despite their own problems, Ellie and Fred watch in despair as he sinks slowly into drink, illness and decline.
Passions escalate as Fred becomes increasingly jealous of Ellie’s closeness to her handsome godfather, Lord Percy Dillinger, and when shocking truths finally come to light, their lives will never be the same again...
The Crimson Bed sweeps readers deep into Victorian England. At the heart of this story is Fred Ashton Thorpe, a Pre-Raphaelite painter, and the woman he falls in love with and marries, Eleanor Farnham. Each has dark secrets they strive to keep hidden, but life has a way of forcing them out. And this is what happens with each turn of the page in this lush novel. Their love story is both highly romantic and devastatingly tragic.
There are several underlying themes running through the novel - the most important of which is the Crimson Bed Ellie inherits from her mother, which Fred does not like. The author does a splendid job of revealing each character’s dilemma, the angst, the betrayal, the pain and chaos it inflicts upon them. The Crimson Bed is a novel that stirs emotions, a beautiful tale with compelling characters that are so real, they leap off the pages. On a deeper level, the novel explores human vulnerability and frailty, love and loss, trust and betrayal. Definitely well written and beautifully written. I loved how she used a Pre-Raphaelite painting for her book cover. Very highly recommended.