Learned By Heart

Emma Donoghue

24 August 2023
528 pages


'A rich and spellbinding 19th-century story of forbidden love' – Independent

'Donoghue evokes a relationship that is convincing and exquisitely touching.' – The Guardian

The heartbreaking story of the love of two women – Anne Lister, the real-life inspiration behind Gentleman Jack, and her first love, Eliza Raine – from the bestselling author of Room and The Wonder.

In 1805, at a boarding school in York, two fourteen-year-old girls first meet.

Eliza Raine, the orphan daughter of an Indian mother, keeps herself apart from the other girls, tired of being picked out for being different. Anne Lister, a gifted troublemaker, is determined to conquer the world, refusing to bow to society’s expectations of what a woman can do.

As they fall in love, the connection they forge will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Full of passion and heartbreak, evocative and wholly unique, Learned by Heart is the beautiful and moving new historical novel from acclaimed author Emma Donoghue.

Shortlisted for the Atwood Gibson Prize

Donoghue's prose is beautiful and beautifully controlled. Simply and without a shred of sentimentality, she evokes a relationship that is convincing and exquisitely touching.
Offers a refreshing perspective on a celebrated figure in LGBTQ+ history
A slow burning love story of first love. The girls do not so much discover love as feel they are inventing it.