What if the old maid of Amherst was not 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. 9 illustrations
If you want to get to know Emily Dickinson then this is the novel for you. However mainly due to the title I thought that this book would be more scandalous with some hidden truths that Emily Dickinson would not want the world to know. However this wasn’t the case we are given the picture that Emily Dickinson is a ‘timid old maid’ and this wasn’t what I was expecting.
This novel is told from the point of view of Emily Dickinson and the language and the text is true to what Emily Dickinson would of used. The inclusion of her poetry was done well and was integrated into the novel.
Overall this was an enjoyable read and it’s only downfall was that I thought there would be more scandal within the novel.