Bleaker House by Nell  Stevens
(Picador, 2017)

Bleaker House

by Nell Stevens

A beguiling and hilarious debut, part memoir, part fiction, about trying and failing to write a book.

When Nell Stevens was offered a Global Fellowship in Fiction (up to three months in a location of her choice in order to write her novel) she was determined to rid herself of distractions. So Nell decided to travel to the isolated Bleaker Island in the Falklands where she would write 2,500 words a day. But Bleaker House is not that novel. Rather, it is about a genuinely talented writer realizing that the way to writing fiction doesn’t necessarily lie in total solitude and a clear plan.

Played out in Bleaker Island’s barren landscape, Bleaker House is the story of Nell’s ill-thought-through adventure, her loneliness, the ridiculous processes she goes through in order to keep herself sane. Time-hopping back to her London life, the breaking apart of a relationship, a terrible humiliation at the hands of a dubious pilot TV show called Any Idiot Can Write a Book, it is a book that brilliantly captures the self-torture of the creative process as Nell struggles to understand what it is to be a writer.

This is a whimsical blend of memoir and travelogue, fiction and tongue-in-cheek writing advice. Funny and honest, Bleaker House is one author’s journey away from a novel, but towards a very different sort of book.


Hilarious and original, charming and engaging. I loved it”
- Rebecca Wait, author of The View on the Way Down and The Followers
Bleaker House is so riveting and so much fun to read, I would have loved it even if it hadn't also been innovative and brilliant, but it is all those things. Nell Stevens is an excellent writer and I can't wait to read every book she writes.”
- Kate Christensen, author of PEN/Faulkner-winning The Great Man
- Lena Dunham
Nell Stevens takes you on a wild ramble across the landscape of the writing life, and at the end sets you down somewhere entirely new and unexpected. This is a romp of a book, a genre-defying feat of the imagination, and pure pleasure to read.”
- Alison Pick, Booker-longlisted author of Far to Go
I read Bleaker House in a gulp. It's a charming read whose first third has a laugh a page before Nell's odyssey turns into something more serious. You can't, just by attending writing school, learn how to produce fine writing. This clever and funny book shows you may also want to get out and experience the world, and yourself, as well.”
- Dan Boothy, author of Island of Dreams
I wolfed this wholly original part-memoir, part travelogue, part short story collection in one sitting, and adored it. As well as being funny, edgy, confiding, and ever so slightly horrifying, it's also a fascinating reflection on writing: how it is taught, and how it is learned. And you'll never look at a potato - or a Ferrero Rocher chocolate - in quite the same way again”
- Bookseller