Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor

Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor

Publishing Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 256 pages
Historical Fiction

The Premise: The novel reimagines the life of Emily Dickinson through the eyes of her family Irish maid, Ada Concannon. In a Downton Abbey-esque style, the novel offers the perspectives of Emily and Ada. Both of their stories are intertwined and as Emily retreats further away from society, she finds friendship and solace in Ada. Ada also finds herself in some conflict which threatens to ruin her reputation and she finds herself relying on Emily to help with the situation.

My overall thoughts and review: I love stories that give the Downton Abbey style of giving both the perspectives of the individual, Emily and also the maid, Ada. I've studied a bit of Emily Dickinson in my undergrad and I don't know much about her history besides the fact that Emily did have a household maid by the name of Margaret Maher who was born in Ireland, like Ada Concannon was. I don't know for sure whether this Ada is to be a fictional representation of Margaret, but there are connections that can be made between the two. I really enjoyed that the story offered both of their perspectives. Seeing Emily's beautiful poetic verses intertwined within the narrative was wonderful. It definitely made me want to go out and pick up more of Emily's poems. For a smaller novel, O'Connor definitely offers a lot within it. The narrative is sure to demonstrate Emily's strong friendship with Sue and Ada's developing relationship with Daniel Byrne, along with the main relationship: Emily and Ada. I really enjoyed the dynamics of all the relationships and it was very clear how significant Ada was to Emily and vice versa. I think because I did not know so much about Emily Dickinson's history to begin with, I was able to approach the text without preconceived notions which allowed me to really enjoy it and not nitpick over details. O'Connor has beautiful writing and I really felt as if she did Emily justice and I could feel Emily's presence come alive within the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I think fans of Emily Dickinson will definitely appreciate this! This is a great novel for those who enjoy the upstairs and downstairs narrative!

My rating of the book:   (4/5 stars) 

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Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of this book was sent to me by Penguin Canada for consideration/review. All opinions are my own. 

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