Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Blog Tour Stop - The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn

Today I'm honored to be hosting a book blog tour stop for the book, "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson" by Jerome Charyn.

About The Book:
(From Goodreads.com)

An astonishing novel that removes Emily Dickinson’s own mysterious mask and reveals the passions and heartbreak of America’s greatest poet.

What if the old maid of Amherst wasn’t an old maid at all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his “wild sister.”

Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. The poet dons a hundred veils, alternately playing wounded lover, penitent, and female devil.

We meet the significant characters of her life, including her tempestuous sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert; her brooding father, Edward; and the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, who may have inspired some of her greatest letters and poems.

Charyn has also invented characters, including an impoverished fellow student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, who will betray her; and a handyman named Tom, who will obsess Emily throughout her life.

Charyn has written an extraordinary adventure that will disturb and delight.

My Thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised at how intriguing "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson" turned out to be!  Author Jermone Charyn presents his views of Emily through a series of what I considered to be short, but entralling short stories, with each chapter allowing the reader to peer into a small portion of what Emily's life might have been like, with each chapter blending into the next with seamless precision.

Charyn's Emily is no shrinking violet!  I enjoyed how he has portrayed her as a fiesty, independent woman who seem to struggle with her sexuality, her fasciantion with men, and her deep-down desire to be loved and cherished. The reader can feel the heartache Emily must have experienced as she became resolved to how her life was to be confined due to her father's reluctance to let her blossom. But Emily found her release in using her imagination and creativity to take her where she longed to go, and thank goodness for that, or the world would not have the beautiful, haunting poetry that she left as her legacy.

My father adored poetry, and I grew up listening to him recite from some of his favorites which include, in our home, the two "Edgars" - Edgar Guest and Edgar Allan Poe (a distant relative).  I had my own favorite poets - Lord Byran, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, all the "romantics" - and have even dabbled in writing a bit of poetry myself through the years.

But I'm sad to admit I had never really read much of Emily Dickinson's body of work until I was asked to participate in this blog tour.  I will be making up for this sad absence of knowledge after reading this fascinating novelization of Dickinson's life. "The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson" is a mature, entralling novel. I highly recommend it.

About the Author:

JEROME CHARYN is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him “one of the most important writers in American literature.”

Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture.

Check out his website at http://www.jeromecharyn.com/ for more information on his books and upcoming projects.

My thanks to Tribute Books for including me on this blog tour, and for supplying the review copy of this book.  I was not compensated for my opinions.

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Tribute Books said...

Sharon, what a beautiful post. I love how you included artwork featuring Emily's poetry - what a nice touch to your review. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed the book.

For all those who would like to follow along on the book's blog tour, please feel free to visit http://thesecretlifeofemilydickinson.blogspot.com/

Sharon Henning said...

Great post and I'm stealing your CS Lewis button!

express said...

That is a very soothing blog of the book reviews. i would love to follow the books. I also want to write the book on the
and his life.