24 December 2010

Imprint Friday: Emily Hudson by Melissa Jones

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Pamela Dorman Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Melissa Jones's Emily Hudson was inspired by the story of Minny Temple, the real-life cousin of author Henry James. The time period is the 1860s and the setting takes us from New England to London to the Continent.

Here's the publisher's summary:

After the start of the Civil War, Emily Hudson--an orphan who lost her family to consumption and fever--finds herself the begrudged guest at the home of her relatives in Newport. Emily's longing to be an artist is dismissed by her puritanical uncle, who wants nothing more than to rid himself of her through marriage. Her only friend is her aesthete cousin, William, an ailing young writer. When a promising engagement to the eligible Captain Lindsay is broken, William rescues Emily from an uncertain future by taking her to England. Lonely and desperate to escape her cousin--once her confidante, now her obsessively controlling patron--Emily sets out alone to meet her destiny in the eternal city of Rome.

Reminiscent of the novels of Edith Wharton, Emily Hudson is an exquisitely told tale about a heroine struggling to be true to herself and [to] find love in a society where only marriage or an independent income guaranteed a woman the freedom to do as she pleased.
So much about this novel appeals to me: from its foundation in fact to its protagonist--a young woman trying to hold fast to her dreams. I also love that parts of the story are told in letters, a style I have always enjoyed. In fact, it is through a letter that we are first introduced to Emily:
It is with regret that I begin the task of writing to you about your niece, Emily. Her recent behavior, which I have outlined to you in previous letters--most specifically her unfortunate, extravagant friendship with a fellow pupil, Augusta Dean, and its unsettling effect on the other pupils, all girls entrusted to my care and to whom I owe a great duty--compels me to request that she be formally removed from the school and returned to your care with immediate effect. (p. 5)
And from there, we want to know what Emily did, why the schoolmarm is writing to Emily's uncle, and what will happen to the young woman once she's given over to her relatives. I am also interested in the portrayal of Emily's cousin William, who is loosely based on Henry James. This is a novel that will appeal to readers who like a strong female character, historical fiction, the epistolary style, and memorable writing.

Take a look at some other view points:
  • Amy Steele from Entertainment Realm says: "Outstanding research and scintillating physical descriptions makes Emily Hudson a truly stand-out work of historical fiction."
  • The Independent notes: "The psychological tension subtly takes hold of the reader and does not let go. This is a wonderful book and it will not disappoint."
  • Katherine Peterson from Fresh Fiction thinks: "Jones clearly has a talent for character development, an ability to set a scene, and realistic dialogue that enhances her characters' personalities."
For an interview with Melissa Jones, see BookRabbit.com. The reading group guide from the publisher includes an introduction and another interview with Jones as well as discussion questions.

This book was featured as part of my Imprint Fridays feature and my Spotlight on Pamela Dorman Books. For more information about the imprint, please read Pamela Dorman's introductory letter, posted here on December 3, 2010.

Emily Hudson at Powell's
Emily Hudson at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Viking / Pamela Dorman Books, September 2010
ISBN-13: 9780670021802


Julie P. 12/24/10, 7:57 AM  

This one that I have in a big old pile and definitely want to read.

bermudaonion 12/24/10, 8:44 AM  

This one's new to me, but boy, does it sound good!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 12/24/10, 8:53 AM  

I see the cover of this all the time at the bookstore and it looks intriguing. Haven't brought myself to pick it up yet, but it's good to know more about it.

Barbara 12/24/10, 10:54 AM  

I'll definitely be looking for this one. It sounds great.

Beth Kephart 12/24/10, 12:54 PM  

I want to live inside Pamela Dorman Books.

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