03 June 2010
Book Review: The Great Lover
Author: Jill Dawson
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, GLBT Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,
Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid
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.
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.
If I've missed yours, let me know!
Vulpes Libris; Asylum; The Guardian; The Independent; Books 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.