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Afternoons with Emily : a novel by Rose…

Afternoons with Emily : a novel

by Rose MacMurray

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In mid-19th century Amherst gossip is rife about one of the town's citizens: Emily Dickinson, a budding poet and recluse. When young Miranda Chase moves to be with her family, she unexpectedly finds herself fast becoming Emily's dearest friend.Drawn to Emily's love of language, fiery intelligence and refusal to abide by the rules of proper society, Miranda, no intellectual slouch herself, soon becomes an acolyte of the magnetic poet. But when Miranda begins exploring her own yearnings - for love, for an education, even for a career - she learns that the cryptic and crafty writer does not always have good intentions in mind. Summary BPL

Emily Dickinson has always been a popular poet and now, with the internet, her poetry is even more accessible. Most of us have read at least one poem and others have researched Miss Dickinson's life enough to find out that she chose to live like a hermit, seeing only family and a very few close friends. I've always wondered why? To conserve/preserve her inspiration and talent? Or was she extremely emotionally sensitive....?

Ms MacMurray, a poet herself, spent years on a novel that would flesh out the elusive Miss Dickinson. Afternoons with Emily was published posthumously by Ms MacMurray's family.

Emily is presented as talented, hard working, masterful in wrestling words to do her bidding. In letters to her chosen "mentors", Emily is also controlling, possessive, high strung and almost unbearably coy. America was suffering the devastation of a civil war at this time; something that barely approached the borders of Emily's upper class, fishbowl world. Patriarchy, the rights of women, these were Emily's battlegrounds.

Afternoons with Emily neither idealizes nor dishonours Amherst's favourite daughter. Instead, the reader is drawn into Emily's world via her fictional confidante, Miranda, as well as into the world of 19th century United States. We soon realize that Emily Dickinson cannot be categorized or labelled. While a product of her time and breeding, Emily writes poems that will not be understood or appreciated until after her death. She remains a study in contrasts.

7.5 out of 10. Fans of Miss Dickinson's poetry will want to read this novel, of course but it has much to offer anyone interested in the Civil War era, New England history, principles of education and a good story. ( )
  julie10reads | Jan 6, 2013 |
This novels follows Miranda Chase, a Boston-born girl who, after a year of living abroad in Barbados, moves with her widower father to Emily Dickinson’s hometown of Amherst. When Emily hears gossip of Miranda's unconventional opinions on life, the poet invites the younger girl over for tea, and soon the two become almost friends. As she grows older, Miranda finds herself torn between fascination and disenchantment with Emily’s eccentricities.

Personally, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was of the rare kind that gently takes hold of the reader and brings him or her to a completely new time and place. MacMurray is a completely confident and assured writer who knows her subject of Emily Dickinson inside and out, making the story here so utterly compelling.

My book group and I read Afternoons with Emily earlier this year; you can read more about our meeting here: http://10thirty.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/brunch-with-book-group/
  NDK | Jun 20, 2008 |
Ah, I loved the opening...
"Today is an Emily afternoon: the distilled essence of a New England spring." p. 3
I lost interest, however, about midway through the novel when the author spent more pages than necessary on plot involving characters other than Emily Dickenson. Reading a biography would probably have been more worthwhile. ( )
  LaurieLH | Apr 15, 2008 |
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We met as Sparks - Diverging Flints
Sent various - scattered ways -
We parted as the Central Flint
Were cloven with an Adze -
Subsisting on the Light We bore
Before We felt the Dark -
A Flint unto this Day - perhaps -
But for that single Spark.

- Emily Dickinson
This book is dedicated to Pat Hass,
without whose tireless friendship Afternoons with Emily
would never have appeared.

And above all to Frank
with deepest love and gratitude for everything.
First words
Today is an Emily afternoon: the distilled essence of a New England spring.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316017604, Hardcover)

In mid-19th-century Amherst, Emily Dickinson is famous both for her notable family and for her reclusive ways, and only Miranda Chase, a smart girl with big plans for her own life, is allowed to enter the budding poet's very private world. At first, their Monday afternoon visits involve discussing books over piping hot cups of tea, but when Miranda begins exploring her own yearnings--for love, for an education, even for a career--she discovers that being a friend of Emily's is not without its dangers. The very charisma that has inspired her becomes a web of intrigue, and to escape it, Miranda will imperil her reputation, her independence, and even her dreams.

Drawing on letters, poems, and everything that is known about Dickinson's life, AFTERNOONS WITH EMILY is a vivid portrait of America's most famous poet, a coming-ofage story that spans the Civil War, and a tale of two brilliant women who each chose to break with convention and live life on their own terms.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:59 -0400)

Brilliant, ambitious, enigmatic Emily Dickinson has set her sights on no less a goal than to write poems that will be read through the ages. But in mid-nineteenth-century Amherst, gossip spreads about her mysterious ways. Nothing, it is said, can draw the secretive poet out of her upstairs bedroom in the yellow brick house known as The Homestead - until a kindred spirit arrives in the form of young Miranda Chase, a girl who has just moved to town with her father, a newly minted Amherst College professor. Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing New England, the two young women soon form a surprising friendship that will utterly transform them both.… (more)

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