Ruth Livesey's book offers fresh insight into the novel's capacity to imagine national coherence during the swiftly moving modernity of the mid-nineteenth century. By returning in the vehicle of the stage coach to the “just” past, Livesey argues, fictional narratives set in the prior generation served not as an “escape hatch to forgetfulness” (2) from the modern railway present but rather as a “prosthetic memory of being-in-place” (6) that allowed readers to recuperate a sense of local belonging slipping just beyond reach. Even as the railways threatened to deracinate local culture by homogenizing time and annihilating space, the novels Livesey examines seek to preserve affective ties to the uneven particularities of place and then “weave together a nation out of strongly rendered, disjointed localities, putting that sense of being-in-place into a shared circulation” (11). Livesey's study thus complicates and corrects understandings about the purpose of historical narratives, the relationship between...

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