Reviews pre-publication

The Surrogate's wry veracity.

I was granted the privilege of critically reading along with The Surrogate, a late-Victorian novel by my colleague Anna A Ros. A privilege, because the research was well-researched, the theme solid, the conflict material dramatic, sometimes witty and always human. The main character complex enough to enthrall to the end.Pitfalls of idealisation or melodrama have been avoided; Dorothy Dene (née Ada Alice Pullan), acclaimed in her day for great stage presence, was more talented as a painter's model than as an actress. Her spirit and courage we admire, even if we are sometimes annoyed by her limited vision; it is precisely in this way that conventions are magisterially portrayed as supreme - even, though more subdued, in the free-spirited milieus and characters the orphaned Dene sisters come into contact with, when, after long toil, they come into the limelight.Dorothy's doomed romance with the puissant rich and somewhat elusive academy painter Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) fascinates and convinces. Paintings for which Dorothy is the model, such as Flaming June, are woven seamlessly into the narrative; the plot seems historically plausible; Dorothy's demise - her breaking spirit - is sketched in apt strokes, towards the end through her dearest sister Hetty: another happy touch.The wry veracity of Ros's prose stamps The Surrogate as a mature literary work.
Pim Wiersinga
Eleonora en de liefde
Het paviljoen van de vergeten concubines

I read the book in one breath!
I did not know that a historical novel could appeal, touch and, at times, even irritate me so much. To all three I will come back.In my opinion, the author lives up very well to what she tries to teach us in Writing Lab: creative writing, telling a beautiful story in an engaging way. I was very enthralled throughout the book.Which appeals to me a lot: the zeitgeist and how she wove it into the book, especially about the position and therefore behaviour of poorer women. And also the divorce of Ada's parents as a difficult beginning, her substitute motherhood, the separation of the family, the consequences for all the children and the contact between them.
What sometimes irritated me was Ada's naivety towards Freddie. I would have liked her to be a bit more daring towards him and adventure with other lovers. Probably her wait-and-see behaviour also fits the times.
Which touched and moved me: the loss of the sister Dotty and the subsequent naming after her, the wonderful description of Ada's visit to a psychiatric clinic for a particular role and the epilogue, Hetty's concluding piece. Very beautiful and very loving!I think Oscar Wilde's quote "Every portrait that is painted with feeling, is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter" is equally true of the author; a beautiful portrait of Ada/Dorothy and her sisters and loves, a beautiful portrait of herself!!!
Always when I regret that a book is out, I hold onto it for a while.... A habit.
I have been holding this pre-publication for a while and I wish it will be a wonderful release and a huge success!!!
It also inspires me to go see art from that era!

Ans Bonke

I never read novels.

Why should I do it: a mix of facts and fabrications? Admittedly with reading Anna's new book The Surrogate, I have had to correct my misconception; reluctantly, though!
Already after reading part 1, I was very excited and could not stop reading:
  writing style: scintillating
  story: captivating
  narrative form: compelling
The writer keeps giving new impetus to the story. Holds out a promiss to the reader to travel along with Ada on the voyage of discovery as she wrestles her way out of a male-dominated society, something similar in my view is the thrust of this novel.
Mart de Goffau

A fascinating history with a famous painter and his muse as the backdrop, the book is excitingly constructed, before I knew it I was a hundred pages in, it is also a feminist novel about female ambition and recognition. Thanks for the reading pleasure.
Isabelle Steel

The book fits seamlessly into the trend of costume dramas on Netflix.

I started this book about a week ago, but yesterday and the day before, I spent the whole day reading it and was bummed that it was suddenly out. I still looked up Dorothy/Ada online and she indeed died young, but not at the hands of Anna A. Ros. Below is an idea of the impression the book made on me.
The reader immediately falls into the Pullan family household and empathises with the death of one of the many children and the division of the household not much later. Only later does the role of these events on the further course of the main character's life become clear. Because of the four sisters' special drama room, I automatically make a link to the book and the film "Little Women", in which the main character is also full of ambition, but soon this comparison ends. The book does fit seamlessly into the trend of costume dramas on Netflix and renewed attention to late 19th-century England. Compelling and at times humorously written, the book is hard to put down. Care has clearly been taken to research the successive historical events and interrelationships of painters, actresses, models, their families, and friends. Either the author has a great sense of historical detail, or she is a time traveller. A striking feature in the book is the contrast between the scenes where Ada/Dorothy shares the bed with a woman or a man. The former is confidently described as something special with erotic details, the other mundane, careless and detached. Furthermore, a glossary has been added at the back of the book, which will hopefully still be in colour, because despite the visual description of the beautiful paintings, colour illustrations are still welcome, despite the fact that extra background information is never far away via the Internet.

Hannah Oud-Biemold