Alice Dickinson, no relation to Emily, plans to write a play about the love affair between Mabel Loomis Todd and Austin Dickinson, Emily's older brother. Alice is English. To understand the atmosphere of Amherst she travels to America. Her friend and ex-lover, Jack, gives her the address of Nick Crocker, his mother's ex-lover and a professor at Amherst College. Under the influence of Emily Dickinson's poetry and the Mable-Austin love affair, Alice has a brief affair with the charismatic Nick.
The stories of the two love affairs are told in alternating chapters. Like many books that try to tell two stories one story is superior to the other. The love affair between Mable and Austin is historically accurate and well written. The chapters are filled with excerpts from letters and diaries as well as Emily's poems. The love affair between Alice and Nick is far less interesting.
I found the characters, Alice and Nick, not believable. Alice's affair seems forced. She's only known Nick a couple of days when she's madly in love with him. I found the whole affair melodramatic. I couldn't get close to either of the characters.
I also found the treatment of Emily Dickinson rather distasteful. I had a hard time believing that the inspiration for her poems was listening outside the dining-room door while Mabel and Austin made love.
If you love Emily Dickinson's poems or are interested in the love affair between Mabel and Austin, you may enjoy this book.
I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.