03 June 2010

Book Review: The Great Lover

Title:  The Great Lover
Author:  Jill Dawson

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, GLBT Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Nell Golightly, a maid, meets Rupert Brooke when he takes a room at the tea garden where she works. Brooke is beautiful, narcissistic, and unconventional, and Nell, a practical girl, finds herself falling for this enigmatic man.

Part history, part fiction, The Great Lover uses Brooke's own letters, his own words, to create a new vision of a poet deemed "the handsomest young man in England" by W.B. Yeats.

My Thoughts
Rupert Brooke seems a fascinating man and a ripe topic for a book.  His fluid sexuality and controversial beliefs beg to be explored.  The Great Lover doesn't shy away from Brooke's non-traditional life, and through the combination of Brooke's own words and Dawson's imagination, a portrait of a rather eccentric man is formed.

The book is told through two characters, Rupert and Nell, with alternating passages. The use of dual perspective to tell a story can be elegant and revealing or it can be artificial and frustrating. In this case, I felt a mixture of the two.  The voices were distinct, and allowing each to narrate part of the story offered telling glimpses into the characters. I did have some difficulty, however, with the separate perspectives as the two characters spend so much time apart. Using both voices, telling both lives, I felt added extraneous detail to the story.  So much of what each has to say has so little to do with the other that I could see the two voices being different books.

This would be my main difficulty with the book.  I felt that the story could have been told in half the time.  Perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for minutiae.  The book seemed to be about creating a world instead of telling a story.  And while I'm typically a character-driven reader, I could not relate to either Rupert or Nell, and hence needed something of a plot to maintain my interest.  After about page 100, I started skipping, sometimes entire sections.  So much time was spent on sitting around, on passive voice reflections, on telling instead of showing, that I couldn't focus.  And honestly, even skimming large portions of the book, I don't feel like I missed much.

That is not to say that this is not a good book.  Reviews of this novel seem to be rather mixed, so I urge you to read the links I've provided below. I've always wondered if mixed reviews aren't a positive because while I was not in love with this novel, I would still encourage reading it for yourself because of the differing opinions.  Afterall, I'm giving only one opinion - and it's a personal, not a professional one.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Vulpes Libris; Asylum; The Guardian; The IndependentBooks Like Breathing;

You should also check out the other stops on the TLC Book Tour.

Question: Doesn't he just seem haunted and gorgeous?

Visit Jill Dawson at her website

I have two copies of this book to giveaway.  If you are interested, put your email address in the comments.  Amy from Amy Reads has offered to be a shipping Angel, so anyone from anywhere feel free to enter to win.


  1. I'm sorry this didn't completely work for you, Trisha! But I think I'd like to read it sometime anyway. He does sound like a fascinating man, plus I've been in the mood to gobble up anything from/about the early 20th century these days.

  2. I'd like to try this book.


    Page Inman

  3. Hmmm...he is quite the looker! I think that level of detail is appealing only in certain moods. There are some books I read (like the one right now, This Body of Death by Elizabeth George) where I think in my mind "words, words words, so many words!". It is working for me now, but doesn't always. I get impatient. I think I'll pass on this one, just because I'm drowning in a sea of books and tedious books generally work better on audio for me!

  4. Too bad to hear this wasn't a winner for you. I can see how it would be frustrating having all that extra information not relating to the story.

    BUT, I wouldn't mind being a 'shipping angel' and shipping it on to an international person, if you would like to open it to international bloggers too :)

  5. Nymeth - Amy has offered to be a shipping angel. Did you want to be entered to win a copy?

    Page - Cool.

    Sandy - Words words words...that sounds exactly right. I was just not hooked into the story for some reason.

    Amy - You are too cool! Now, did you want to be entered into the giveaway yourself too?

  6. Hmm... after your review I think I'll stick to just being a middle man if an International blogger wins. I have a staggering tbr pile to get through, and this doesn't sound superb. :)

  7. I know what your saying....a book has to grab me, or else it feels like a chore...

    Love your honesty...

  8. Amy - That BEA pile keeps staring at you doesn't it?

    Empress - Exactly. There are just too many books to spend time on one that doesn't connect with you. And thanks for the comment about honesty.

  9. Heh. Is it that obvious? Also, I feel like maybe I saw this book in a pile, though I may have made that up, but I'm not home to be able to verify!

  10. Amy - You probably did get it in NYC! They put a copy in the Blogger Con swag bag! That's why I have two copies. Total brain freeze on my part.

  11. I thought I saw it! Glad I wasn't imagining things. Though I don't remember unpacking it, but oh well, I'll check after work!

  12. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you the way it hoped. I'll keep it in mind for when I'm in the mood for a quiet, character driven read.

  13. Can you email me and let me know what the GLBT elements were in this? This is one I sort of thought I'd give a 5-page trial to and possibly give it away when my BEA box finally comes, but if it's got GLBT undercurrents, I might be more willing to give it a larger try.

  14. Amy - :)

    S. Krishna - I'm thinking I'll give it another try when I'm in a different mood. Mood plays such a large role.

    Amanda - The main character is bisexual and the book deals with his sexual exploits with both genders. If you are in a slow sort of mood, I do think this book could work.

  15. I like the anyone from anywhere part the best as I am from Sri Lanka.

    Please count me in for this intriguing book.


  16. Rupert Brooke is a hottie with "fluid sexuality." Yum!

    God, I'm shallow.

    Too bad this didn't work for you.

  17. I would like to be entered into this giveaway. I just know I've read another book by Jill Lawson called Wild Boy which I loved.

    BTW, It looks like you had a great time at BEA. :--)

  18. Mystica - Got you entered!

    Jenners - Shallow fantasies are the best. We can be all high minded in real life but when it comes to fantacrushes, I'm completely shallow. :)

    C.B. - Got you entered! And BEA was tons of fun. Are you going next year?

  19. I've heard that the writing in this book is gorgeous but that like you, most people can't really related to either of the characters. Some reviewers didn't mind that, but I think it would be an issue for me.

    Thanks for being part of the tour!

    (no need to enter me)

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


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