Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, by Jerome Charyn

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A NovelBefore she was a well known poetess, Emily was just a girl.  She was a student at Mt. Holyoke Seminary, a beloved daughter, a sensitive sister, and a great romantic.  Read all about the various loves and losses of Emily, and her time in Amherst.  She was unlike anything the town had ever seen, a truly unique woman.

Long a fan of her poetry, I sadly know very little about the life of Emily Dickinson.  So, much of this amazing book went over my head I fear.  Jerome Charyn does a masterful job of weaving established facts about Emily's life and the people in it with his own imaginings of what it was like to live in her mind.  Charyn slips into the mind of Emily, and write a novel full of wonder and heart.

Rarely does a modern author capture the same rhythm and flow of a classic writer, and attempts to do so are typically unconvincing.  But Charyn defies the law of averages, and makes one forget they are not reading straight from Emily's diary.  He channels her spirit brilliantly, and we really feel as if we know Emily by the end of the book.  We share her pain, as well as her pleasure.

I think this is a wonderful novel that weaves together elements of classic literature with modern literature in a new, fresh way.  I recommend this to every fan of Dickinson's poetry, nay, of all classic poetry.  Charyn talks about reaction to the novel in this video.

I am among the faction who love the novel, and am grateful for the chance to learn more about my dear Emily.  Take this opportunity to do the same.


I received a review copy courtesy of the publisher, as part of the book tour.