This Friday and every Friday for the next several months I'll be featuring a book in the Harper Perennial Imprint. Some were recently published, some will be released later this year, all are worth a closer look.
Let me admit right off that if I hadn't read a number of positive reviews on book blogs that I trust, I might have passed this novel by. But The Great Lover by Jill Dawson turns out to combine several elements that usually appeal to me.
First let's take a look at the publisher's summary:
In 1909, sixteen-year-old Nell Golightly is a housemaid at a popular tea garden near Cambridge University, and Rupert Brooke, a new tenant, is already causing a stir with his boyish good looks and habit of swimming naked in nearby Byron's Pool. Despite her good sense, Nell seems to be falling under the radical young poet's spell, even though Brooke apparently adores no one but himself. Could he ever love a housemaid? Is he, in fact, capable of love at all?So what is it that attracts me to this novel? First it is based on real people, making the novel seem to cross the line into biography (a genre I love). Next, Brook knew the Bloomsbury Group and lived during a time when thoughts on sexuality, the British class system, and women's rights were changing. Finally, the poet lived a scandalous existence, traveled the world, and died very young, all of which add to his legend.
Jill Dawson's The Great Lover imaginatively and playfully gives new voice to Rupert Brooke through the poet's own words and through the remembrances of the spirited Nell. An extraordinary novel, it powerfully conveys the allure of charisma as it captures the mysterious and often perverse workings of the human heart.
Here some book blogger reviews that caught my attention:
- Vasilly from 1330V: "One of the things I love about The Great Lover is all the historical facts that the author gives reader."
- Elizabeth from As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves: "I found Dawson's portrayal of two colliding worlds - Rupert's one of education and privilege, and Nell's one of hard work and struggle - to be quite compelling."
- Robin from My Two Blessings: "The book is historical fiction and was eye opening and educational to say the least. It's one of those books that had me running to look things up on the internet, to find out more."
This book was featured as part of my Spotlight on the Harper Perennial imprint. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. You might also want to visit the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.