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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Great Lover by Jill Dawson

The Great Lover: A Novel (P.S.)Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN: 0061924369
Pages: 336 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

 Publisher’s Description:
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.

My Review:
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.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.


  1. Sounds interesting, esp. since I believe Rupert was gay. Schmoopy--what a great word!

  2. I got the impression that he was bisexual from the book. But I don't know much about Rupert at all, so, I am probably wrong.

    Schmoopy is one of my code words that my sister and I use. Probably should not be using them in reviews but sometimes no better word exists.

  3. I was just thinking today about loud music at weddings. I don't get it either!We meet at weddings, I guess, to destroy our hearing, and we meet at funerals because there's no band and we can talk. Is it necessary that the volume is wicked high to enable dancing? I am not big on anything with music so loud you cannot hear yourself think.

    Found you on the hop. Good luck with the challenge. Stop by when you get a chance.

  4. I LOVE that you smuggled this into a wedding - you have no idea how tempted I've been to do that same thing many times!

    Glad you enjoyed the book and thanks for being part of the tour. :)

  5. I have no idea why there has to be thumping dance music at weddings. I see no reason for it. What ever happened to string quartets and waltzes?

  6. It really was a covert operation that had lots of planning go into it. My mother checked my purse before we left the house and when we got to the venue. What she did not know was that my dear father owed me a favor and smuggled the book in for me. I felt like a genius for a little bit.

    You are very welcome :)



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