Learwife

J.R. Thorp

I am the queen of two crowns, banished fifteen years, the famed and gilded woman, bad-luck baleful girl, mother of three small animals, now gone. I am fifty-five years old. I am Lear’s wife. I am here.
Learwife by J.R. Thorp (Hardback ISBN 9781838852832) book cover

Available as Hardback, eBook, Downloadable audio, Paperback

Inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear, this breathtaking debut novel tells the story of the most famous woman ever written out of literary history

AN OBSERVER BEST DEBUT NOVELIST OF 2021
‘Seductive … Gorgeous’ The Times
‘A fresh perspective on an age-old tale’ Irish Times

I am the queen of two crowns, banished fifteen years, the famed and gilded woman, bad-luck baleful girl, mother of three small animals, now gone. I am fifty-five years old. I am Lear’s wife. I am here.’

Word has come. Care-bent King Lear is dead, driven mad and betrayed. His three daughters too, broken in battle. But someone has survived: Lear’s queen. Exiled to a nunnery years ago, written out of history, her name forgotten. Now she can tell her story.

Though her grief and rage may threaten to crack the earth open, she knows she must seek answers. Why was she sent away in shame and disgrace? What has happened to Kent, her oldest friend and ally? And what will become of her now, in this place of women? To find peace she must reckon with her past and make a terrible choice – one upon which her destiny, and that of the entire abbey, rests.

Giving unforgettable voice to a woman whose absence has been a tantalising mystery, Learwife is a breathtaking novel of loss, renewal and how history bleeds into the present.


“Poetic … Distinctive and compelling … Thorp’s poignant and surprising narrative allows a character absent from the original play to obtain her long overdue agency”
observer

See more reviews

“Seductive … Gorgeous”
the Times

“Thorp’s vivid debut novel gives voice to one of fiction’s most conspicuously absent women … Lyrical … Thorp’s distinctive style is heady and evocative … Learwife slots into a strong alternative canon of feminist retellings of classic stories”
i

“Original, intriguing … Thorp’s novel is beautifully written in rich, imaginative prose”
sunday Times, Best New Historical Fiction

“The wife of King Lear is given a powerful voice in this haunting narrative of her life … The writing in this novel is pitch-perfect: lyrical, imaginative and there to savour … Fascinating and heart-wrenching”
daily Mail


J.R. Thorp

J.R. Thorp is a writer, lyricist and librettist. She won the London Short Story Award in 2011 and was shortlisted for the BBC Opening Lines Prize, and has had work published in the Cambridge Literary Review, Manchester Review, Antithesis, Wave Composition and elsewhere. She wrote the libretto for the highly acclaimed modern opera Dear Marie Stopes and has had works commissioned by the Arts Council, the Wellcome Trust and St Paul’s Cathedral. Born in Australia, she now lives in Cork, Ireland.

Learwife is her first novel.

@ThoroughlyThorp | jrthorp.com


J.R. Thorp, author of Learwife, reveals why she chose to name her debut novel after the wife of Shakespeare’s famous King Lear.