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  • A poignant fictional tale of friendship

    ** Thank you to the Penguin Random House First-To-Read Program for giving me a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review ** I am a huge fan of historical fiction and Emily Dickinson. When I first read the blurb to this book, I knew I had to read it. Why? Emily Dickinson was a reclusive poet in a time when a woman’s place was at the hearth, not in publications. Her poetry is haunting yet captures my imagination every time I read it. Ada Concannon is an Irish maid and she has just traveled from Ireland to Amherst, Massachusetts to make her way in the world. She stays with her aunt and uncle while gainfully employed at the Dickinson family estate. Emily Dickinson is immediately taken with their new maid, Ada, and they become fast friends. The author portrays Emily as an emotional, sometimes moody, writer and I can believe that. As a poet myself, I am consumed by words and they are a part of my existence. Told in alternating point-of-view (Ada and Emily), we delve into the hearts and minds of these two women. The storytelling is intimate, poignant and lyrical. The author does a fantastic job of recreating the time-period with excruciating detail including food, utensils and manner of speaking. For the first two-thirds of the book, it’s a 5+ star. The book soon takes a turn for the worse and I’m not sure why the author chose to plunge both Ada and Emily into an abyss. Ada is raped and the book takes a horrible turn, one the reader cannot escape from. I understand this happened during this time-period (and today, for that matter). What I don’t understand is what was the point of it in this story. It wasn’t needed (shock value maybe) and, in fact, left a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the book. It’s like the author was saying, “Women are attacked and their lives are torn apart forever.” If you take out the attack and the rest of the book, this is a wonderful story of Emily Dickinson and her friend, Ada. Fans of Downton Abby and Upstairs, Downstairs will fall in love with Miss Emily. Favorite Character: Ada. I was drawn to her immediately and I loved how even though Miss Emily got in the way of her doing her chores, Ada was patient with her. A friendship can blossom in the most usual places and the author does a masterful job of illustrating that. When Ada gets attacked, her responses and behavior is spot-on for a victim of abuse and I appreciated that. Favorite Quote: Hope never stops; it warms us in cold lands and through strange occurrences. ~Ada My Rating: 4 stars

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