The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson – By Jerome Charyn


Goodreads Synopsis: 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. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon.

Every time I go to the Sylvia Beach Hotel I try to read a book from the room I’m staying in. For my birthday Grant and I stayed in the Emily Dickinson room and there I found this book. I didn’t have many hopes for the book, but I liked the cover.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson read much like a bad fanfiction. It’s like Charyn had a crush on Dickinson and then decided to write a romance between her and several characters that he based all on himself.

This book barely focuses on the fact that Emily was a poet, and a brilliant one at that. She hardly ever spends time writing, but instead goes around falling in love with any half decent man. She goes from one romance to the next and it gets boring rather quickly. On top of that it’s not even well written. There are too many coincidences. Too many cliches. Sure the prose is good, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the book.

In the end I gave this book two stars on Goodreads.

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