Pages: 336 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
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?
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.
The Great Lover was the book I chose to smuggle into the wedding I had to attend this weekend. I know it’s wrong but you really have no idea how much I hate weddings. The Great Lover was the perfect distraction from the insanely loud DJ music that they insist on playing at wedding receptions (haven’t people ever heard of string quartets?). It was engrossing and well-written.
Usually, in order to like a book, I must also love the characters. Especially if the book is about a historical figure or some other sort of famous person. I found that with The Great Lover, I really did not like either Nell or Rupert but I still loved the book. Rupert Brooke was flighty and flippant. His constant parade of partners got a bit exhausting and he never really seemed to care very deeply about any of them at all. I am sort of ambivalent about Nell. I loved her voice. It was intelligent and refreshing but I really could not see why she loved Rupert at all. I think if the book had been just her point of view, I would have liked it a bit more.
The best part of The Great Lover is Jill Dawson’s writing style. The prose was just plain beautiful. It is crisp, clear and descriptive with a simple beauty that is sort of breathtaking. I love it when the author’s writing style is the reason I love a book. I also love the both characters point of views are so clear and distinct. Each character’s voice is so well-defined that I never had to wonder whose point of view I was actually reading.
I highly recommend The Great Lover for the writing alone. I must warn that although it may sound like a romance, it really isn’t. It is really good but if you are looking for something schmoopy and romantic, this isn’t for you.