“Light, Descending: A Novel of John Ruskin” by Octavia Randolph is the well-researched and fictionalised account of the life of art critic John Ruskin. Based on letters and a variety of other resources the author has created a fascinating and convincing portrait. Her competence and her understanding of Ruskin’s life and the times are apparent from the first page. The book provides an informative and accurate picture from childhood to death.
Biographies often suffer from the lack of a natural dramatic curve but Randolph has made great efforts to compensate the reader for that in other ways.
The descriptions are detailed and the characterisation credible. As novice to Ruskin’s work I found the book very informative and enjoyed learning so much about him. For me the areas that stood out most were Ruskin’s private affairs and the political information. People more familiar with the era and art will probably enjoy the book even more.