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In 1857, after two years of writing The Life of Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell fled England for Rome on the eve of publication. There she found excitement, inspiration and a man, Charles Norton, who would become the love of her life, though they would never be together.
In 2013, Nell Stevens is embarking on her Ph.D. – about the community of artists and writers living in Rome in the mid-nineteenth century – and falling in love with a man who lives in another city. As Nell chases her heart around the world, and as Mrs Gaskell forms the greatest connection of her life, these two women, though centuries apart, are drawn together.