Nell Golightly is living out her widowhood in Cambridgeshire when she receives a strange request: a Tahitian woman, claiming to be the daughter of the poet Rupert Brooke, writes to ask what he was like: how did he sound, what did he smell like, how did it feel to wrap your arms around him? So Nell turns her mind to 1909 when, as a seventeen-year ...
Nell Golightly is living out her widowhood in Cambridgeshire when she receives a strange request: a Tahitian woman, claiming to be the daughter of the poet Rupert Brooke, writes to ask what he was like: how did he sound, what did he smell like, how did it feel to wrap your arms around him? So Nell turns her mind to 1909 when, as a seventeen-year-old housemaid, she first encountered the young poet. He was already causing a stir - not only with his poems and famed good looks, but also by his taboo-breaking behaviour and radical politics. Intrigued, she watched as Rupert skilfully managed his male and female admirers, all of whom seemed to be in love with him. Soon Nell realised that despite her good sense, she was falling for him too. But could he love a housemaid? Was he, in fact, capable of love at all? In a dazzling act of imagination, Jill Dawson gives voice to Rupert Brooke himself in a dual narrative that unfolds in both his own words and those of her spirited fictional character, Nell. A memorable tale of love in many guises, of heartbreak and loss, the novel brings Brooke vividly to life as it shows him to have been a far more interesting, complex and troubled figure than the romanticised version allows.
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Publishers Weekly, 2010-04-19 Dawson (Trick of Light) adroitly weaves together fact and fiction in this artful account of British poet Rupert Brooke's mental breakdown in the years before WWI. Boyishly handsome, Brooke arrives in Grantchester, England, and quickly begins a series of tangled romances. He woos a reserved schoolgirl, loses his virginity to a male friend, and flirts shamelessly with numerous women. Observing these ill-advised exploits is a no-nonsense housemaid, Nell Golightly, who, recently orphaned, thinks of herself as immune to love. Then one fateful evening she comes across Brooke naked, on his way for a night swim. Their subsequent relationship is complicated by class and Brooke's bisexuality. For Nell, the relationship poignantly marks the boundary between childhood and adulthood, while for Brooke, Nell provides a counterpoint to his other sexually confusing relationships. Finally, insecure about his poetry, grappling with his brother's death, and shattered by his failed affairs, Brooke begins to come undone, eventually finding solace with a Tahitian woman. Burrowing deep inside Brooke's mind, Nell is a capable narrator, and the result is a believable, sensitive portrayal of a "great lover's" search for love. (June) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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