Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review & Giveaway: The Great Lover by Jill Dawson

"Rupert's true heart beats only on paper."

April, 1982. Ninety year old Nell Golightly receives a surprising letter from Tahiti. A 67 year old woman would like to know something of her father, whom she never met. Somehow her letter finds its way to Nell, who worked as a maid, many years ago, at the Orchard House in Grantchester where the lady's father lived for a time. The man she is inquiring about is the English poet, Rupert Brooke.

~Rupert Brooke ~

This letter forms the basis for Nell's story. Beginning in 1909, she relates her life as a young woman working to support her brothers & sisters after their parents have died, and her meeting and infatuation with the young Cambridge student who comes to live at the Orchard. Rupert Brooke (his picture is above, beautiful isn't he?) is charismatic, charming, talented, even slightly wicked. Nell watches his interactions with women (and men) and despite both she finds herself romantically captivated and intellectually challenged by this fascinating man:

"Here we stop...and I acknowledge to myself the one hard fact that, despite my nature, it has taken me so long to face. There is no request Rupert could make of me that I would refuse. Whatever the pledge between me and God, this is the truth."

The Orchard House, Grantchester

As a counterpoint to Nell's story, we get Rupert's own, told from his perspective in alternating sequences. Here it is revealed how much of his outer persona is a sham. He is terribly unsure of himself, sexually inexperienced, not confident of himself as a lover or a writer. He longs for peace, time to think and be alone with his thoughts, though he is constantly and almost randomly infatuated with different people.

"...There are only two ways of approaching relationships. One is only to allow love on the supposition that it may lead to marriage-the other is- the wandering way. And there are people made for the first way and perhaps people made for the second. But to introduce those made for the first to people made for the second is to invite pain and endless trouble....I'm a wanderer."

~Rupert Brooke, in a letter to Phyllis Gardner, 1913

The impetus to escape leads him to the Orchard House and eventually to Tahiti, where some of his best poems were written.

"I think I've always been a sucker for a sexy, brilliant, impossible man."~Jill Dawson

I love the above quote from the author's essay at the back of the book about how she came to write The Great Lover, "The First Tiny Throb: How a Novel Begins." I found her portrayal of Rupert Brooke fascinating, as the man himself must have been. I loved Nell, her intelligence and courage, her ability to look past her social class, her gentle confidence. Rupert was interesting but Nell was the star of this beautifully written novel.

The Great Lover is published by Harper Perennial, ISBN 978-0-06-192436-1. For more information about the author, please visit her website. I received this book as part of a TLC Book Tour, you can see a list of the rest of the tour stops here.

I ended up with two copies of this book since I came home with one from BEA. So, I have two paperback copies to give away! One is unread, the other is my own gently read copy. Winners must have a US or Canada mailing address. To enter just leave me a comment here that includes your email address. This giveaway will be open until midnight eastern time on July 14. Thank you all so much for visiting and entering.

~The Soldier~ Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Joining the 2010 EW Summer Books Challenge

For some reason I never seem to be able to complete challenges. I don't know if it is because I get too busy or if I need a spreadsheet or what, I just stink at them! But Julie over at Booking Mama has one that I think I can handle, The 2010 EW Summer Books Challenge. Click on the title for all the details....I am definitely reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and This Body of Death by Elizabeth George, so I should at least be able to achieve Polliwog level. Thanks for thinking up a great (and manageable) challenge, Julie!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Historical Fiction finds at BEA!

I got a lot of great books at BEA this year! There weren't as many historical fiction titles this year as there were last year, but I still managed to snag quite a few. Thought you might like to see a sampling of the ones I am most looking forward to!

by Mitchell James Kaplan (already out)

The Dead Travel Fast
by Deanna Raybourn (already out)

The King's Mistress
by Emma Campion (July)

by Anne Fortier (August)

by Jennifer Donnelly (October)

A Secret Kept
by Tatiana de Rosnay (September)

The Wolves of Andover
by Kathleen Kent (November)

Most of the reviews for these will post in or near the month that they are due out and I will do giveaways for most of them. Great titles on this list, can't wait to get started!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Long Overdue BEA Wrap-up!

Once again, I am way behind! Had a family emergency that has occupied all of my time since returning from BEA. Things are going better now, for which I am profoundly grateful! Anyway, I was in New York from May 24 thru the 29th for Book Expo America. Last year was so much fun, I didn't think it could be more fun or exciting this year, but it was! There were so many bloggers there, old friends and new, and it was exciting to see everyone. Plus, on Friday I attended the first ever Book Blogger Convention! Michelle, Trish, Natasha, Nicole, Amy, Rebecca and everyone involved in the organization of it did a fantastic job. It was interesting, educational and the keynote speaker, author Maureen Johnson, was an inspired choice. She was hilarious and so much fun to listen to! I don't buy very many books but she completely won me over, I'll be going out to buy all of hers!

Show Floor

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first exhibit day was Wednesday, it was crazy! So many people everywhere...not to mention the books! I had more than I could carry within the first hour. Time to start being more selective! It is very hard to limit yourself when fantastic books are being thrust at you from every direction. I admit, BEA is heaven for someone like me. Nothing but books, authors, book publicists, book publishers, book lovers, book bloggers....very fun and exciting. So, Wednesday was great. But it was Thursday that was fantastic!

Me and Clinton Kelly

You'll think I'm very silly, but I was so excited to meet Clinton Kelly from TLC's show What Not to Wear. I love the show, have been watching it for ages and learning from it! (I put a LOT of thought into what I would wear on Thursday!) He was signing at 10am and I got in line early. He was so nice! Even complimented me on my outfit (whew!) know I couldn't meet him and have him thinking "Wow, YOU need to be on my show..."!! What is a fashion guru doing at BEA? He has a book coming out, not until October, called Oh No She Didn't. We didn't actually get the book, it was a little preview pamphlet which he signed for me.

As you walk down the aisles at BEA one of the things that you notice immediately is the lines that form around the booths. There is a separate autographing area where authors sign at scheduled times, but many publisher booths have authors signing, too. So, as you walk by a line you get curious and lean in to ask who everyone is waiting to see. This happens over and over again during the course of BEA (at least for me, I'm always curious to know who is causing all the excitement at the moment). Now, I make up a schedule before I go of who I want to see, so I usually don't stop. But early afternoon on Thursday I walked by a line that had just started to form...only about 15 people in it. When I asked who it is for I was told Kathryn Stockett would be signing copies of her bestseller, The Help ! This was completely unannounced, probably for crowd control reasons, but I was thrilled. The Help has been out well over a year and is still at the top of bestseller lists (#11 right now on Amazon). And I had yet to get a copy, let alone a signed one. And then I got to meet the author, too! I tried to get a picture but the one I manged to take was horribly many people jostling around to get a second shot.

Me and Tim Gunn

At 1 pm Thursday, Tim Gunn (he has had a long career in the fashion world but is best known for Project Runway) was scheduled to sign his new book Gunn's Golden Rules, which will be out in September. I got in line at noon because I knew that the line would get incredibly long. The signing started exactly on time but the line moved extremely slowly. Tim is so friendly and nice, he chatted with each person, called them by name, asked about them, taking 2-3 minutes for each of us. Which translated to a long wait in line that was completely worth it! What a gracious man. I was probably about 40th in line and it was a bit after two when I finally got to meet him (the goofy picture of me is above). He was only scheduled to sign for ONE HOUR, from 1-2. After I saw him there were still hundreds of people in line behind me. When I left the room at 4:15 pm he was still there, looking like he had just stepped out there, smiling and generous with each and every person. He stood there for as long as it took to see everyone who wanted to meet him. I was very impressed.

A night out with Caitlin and the crew from Unbridled Books was a perfect way to end a perfect day! We all had a great time at Hudson Bar & Books, an appropriate spot for us!

After Friday's Book Blogger Convention we decided dinner was in order. Allie (Hist-Fic Chick) and Nicole (Linus' Blanket), our resident New Yorkers, led the way to Dos Caminos where we had twenty something bloggers all together for some great mexican food and, of course, margaritas. I wish I had time to chat with everyone but the conversation was non-stop. It was a great evening. The bill was well over $1,000! So much fun, a perfect end to a perfect trip!

Jen (Devourer of Books), Allie (Hist-Fic Chick) and Me

And there you have it, a fantastic BEA! Can't wait for next year! (Thanks for sharing the above photo, Allie!)

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.