In recent years, Kris has turned to writing fiction. Her novels underway include one set in 1850s England and France and A Gathering of Shadows.
A Gathering of Shadows is in the lushly written and tightly plotted tradition of Fingersmith and The Miniaturist. It is set in the art world of Victorian England—a seductive, beauty-obsessed mileau where the sinuous graces of peacock feathers and absinthe dreams hold more importance than a young woman’s life.
In 1888 London, Elizabeth Sirini is a young woman haunted by shadows: the shadow of her father’s untimely death, the shadow of a broken engagement, and the shadow of her thwarted scholarly aspirations, all which led to her collapse a year earlier. Shadows also plague the painter St. John Dulac, whose scandalous elopement with an American heiress led to his rise and fall as the enfant terrible of the Royal Academy of Art. Therefore it’s no surprise that, when Elizabeth and St. John meet at a séance one afternoon, he is immediately entranced by her beauty and the sadness she carries like a weight.
Thinking Elizabeth would be perfect to pose for his new canvas of the Lady of Shalott—the girl of Arthurian legend whose unrequited love for Lancelot led to her death—St. John asks Elizabeth to model for the painting, which he hopes will rescue his tarnished career. Before long, Elizabeth is swept up in the Dulacs’ glittering, bohemian world—a decadent milieu where the hunger for sensation and beauty reigns supreme over truth and honor.
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Above: An inspiration for A Gathering of Shadows: The Lady of Shalott painted by J. W. Waterhouse in 1888.