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.


Mystica said...

I'm the first hopefully!
please count me in.


Maria Grazia said...

Oh! It is not open internationally, unfortunately. But I'd love to read this one. I'm so interested in war poets and their unlucky fate. I have to get it somehow. Good review. Thanks, anyway.

Linda said...

I've heard of Rupert Brooke, his name is quite familiar, yet I really don't anything about him. The book sounds fascinating, and one has to appreciate the cover! Thanks for the giveaway.

Zibilee said...

I know almost nothing about Rupert Brook, but this sounds like an interesting story, and I'd like to learn more. Thanks for the great review and giveaway. Please do enter me!!


bermudaonion said...

You've made the book sound so good, how can I not enter? milou2ster(at)

ChristyJan said...

Please enter me in this giveaway


Unknown said...

This book sounds really good!
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Shannon said...

Thank you for entering me. =)
tiredwkids at live dot com

Stacey said...

I'm not big on poetry, but I've always loved that one. Good review.

geekgirlunveiled at gmail dot com

Jonnie (JB) said...

This sounds great. Please count me in


Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I really love stories from this era and I would love to win and read this novel.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Linda Henderson said...

This sounds like a very interesting book, I would love to read it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Michele said...

Okay, I haven't entered a giveaway in forever and a day, but you have got me with this book (it's on my Amazon wishlist, LOL) what the heck, I'll give it a shot! (Thanks for having the giveaway!)

Unknown said...

I picked up this book at BEA as well, but didn't realize it was about a poet. I will have to look more into that! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Martha Lawson said...

Sounds great! Please enter me for it.

I follow on gfc

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Benita said...

I so want to read this now! Please count me in.


Debs Desk said...

Wow - that book sounds so good, waht a great review. Please include me in your giveaway.

Cindy W. said...

Oh, I would love to read this book. Please enter me into your giveaway and thank you for the opportunity.

Cindy W.


Megan said...

You've made it sound so excellent, I can't help but enter (and put it on my wishlist)! =)

toadacious1 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

The general consensus I’ve seen about this book is that Nell was an amazing woman, and it seems that you agree. :) Thanks for being a part of the tour! (no need to enter me)

Gwendolyn B. said...

Sounds dreamy! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

nfmgirl said...

Sounds great! Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Heidi V said...

This sounds like an awesome summer read!

Thanks for the chance
heidivargas [at] live dot com

Steve Capell said...

I found your review to be intriguing and one that I would take pleasure in reading.

Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.


Patricia L said...

Sounds the same vein as Loving Frank (which had me riveted).

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in this contest for this wonderful book!


comethespring said...

Thanks for the chance to win this book. It sounds great!

comethespring at gmail dot com

Judy said...

Oh, be still my heart...I would love this book and what a great review. Thanks a million.
Judy at

Andie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andie said...

I don't know very much about Rupert Brooke but from what you've written I'm sure this book is great.

Sue said...

I'd like a chance! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Anita Yancey said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I would really enjoy reading it. Please enter me. Thanks!


Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Carol said...

Not here to enter the comp
just to say this is a great read and your review sums it up nicely.

The winner will not be disappointed with this novel.

One of my favourite reads

Anonymous said...

I would like to enter to win this book. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just noticed the giveaway is over now!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful read and I would love to be entered to read it

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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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.