Miss Emily by Nuala O'connorMiss Emily by Nuala O'connor

Miss Emily

byNuala O'connor

Paperback | July 14, 2015

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Longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award

Emily Dickinson’s life is reimagined in her own voice and through eyes of a young Irish maid—an enchanting novel in the spirit of Longbourn and Mrs. Poe

Ada Concannon’s first day in America is a success. She’s the new maid for the respected but eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Despite the differences in age and class, eighteen-year-old Ada, “a neat little Irish person, fresh off the boat,” strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster’s life at home. Emily is a bastion of support as Ada struggles to find her place in this new world, while Ada’s toil gives Emily the freedom she needs to write.

But Emily’s passion for words begins to dominate her life. She decides to wear nothing but white and increasingly avoids the outside world. When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, however, Emily faces down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

NUALA O’CONNOR was born in Dublin in 1970 and lives in East Galway with her family. She holds a B.A. in Irish from Trinity College Dublin and a masters in translation studies (Irish/English) from Dublin City University. She is a short-story writer, and novelist and the recipient of many fiction awards, including RTÉ radio’s Francis Mac...
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Title:Miss EmilyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 7.74 × 5 × 0.7 inPublished:July 14, 2015Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143192450

ISBN - 13:9780143192459

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well Done Ms. O'Connor! I've never read any of Emily Dickinson's work so I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy a book about her, but, alas, this was so well written that I was captured immediately and thoroughly enjoyed this story. I loved the strong female characters, Emily and her young Irish maid, Ada. I loved how human the characters were, and without coming right out and saying it, the author, Nuala O'Connor, compassionately shares Emily's very real struggle with anxiety, depression and agoraphobia. I think it's a very good sign when a story compels you to mull over it long after the book is finished. Well done Ms. O'Connor!
Date published: 2015-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A poignant fictional tale of friendship ** Thank you to the Penguin Random House First-To-Read Program for giving me a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review ** I am a huge fan of historical fiction and Emily Dickinson. When I first read the blurb to this book, I knew I had to read it. Why? Emily Dickinson was a reclusive poet in a time when a woman’s place was at the hearth, not in publications. Her poetry is haunting yet captures my imagination every time I read it. Ada Concannon is an Irish maid and she has just traveled from Ireland to Amherst, Massachusetts to make her way in the world. She stays with her aunt and uncle while gainfully employed at the Dickinson family estate. Emily Dickinson is immediately taken with their new maid, Ada, and they become fast friends. The author portrays Emily as an emotional, sometimes moody, writer and I can believe that. As a poet myself, I am consumed by words and they are a part of my existence. Told in alternating point-of-view (Ada and Emily), we delve into the hearts and minds of these two women. The storytelling is intimate, poignant and lyrical. The author does a fantastic job of recreating the time-period with excruciating detail including food, utensils and manner of speaking. For the first two-thirds of the book, it’s a 5+ star. The book soon takes a turn for the worse and I’m not sure why the author chose to plunge both Ada and Emily into an abyss. Ada is raped and the book takes a horrible turn, one the reader cannot escape from. I understand this happened during this time-period (and today, for that matter). What I don’t understand is what was the point of it in this story. It wasn’t needed (shock value maybe) and, in fact, left a sour taste in my mouth for the rest of the book. It’s like the author was saying, “Women are attacked and their lives are torn apart forever.” If you take out the attack and the rest of the book, this is a wonderful story of Emily Dickinson and her friend, Ada. Fans of Downton Abby and Upstairs, Downstairs will fall in love with Miss Emily. Favorite Character: Ada. I was drawn to her immediately and I loved how even though Miss Emily got in the way of her doing her chores, Ada was patient with her. A friendship can blossom in the most usual places and the author does a masterful job of illustrating that. When Ada gets attacked, her responses and behavior is spot-on for a victim of abuse and I appreciated that. Favorite Quote: Hope never stops; it warms us in cold lands and through strange occurrences. ~Ada My Rating: 4 stars
Date published: 2015-08-17

Editorial Reviews

A "Globe 100" Best Book of 2015, The Globe & MailAn Amazon.ca Editors' Best Book of 2015Longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award"Miss Emily is mesmerizing from its first pages, a feat made possible only by the pen of a writer of immense talent who connects with Dickinson.  She writes from the poet's perspective with utter confidence, without cliche and with the same love of words.  A gift indeed." - The Toronto Star"Nuala O'Connor's lovely novel pulls us in from its first limpid lines and then detonates with an explosion of power - much like Emily Dickinson's poems.  The novel captivates with its high emotions and rich images." - Washington Post"O'Connor brings one of America's most gifted poets to life. [She] is a gifted writer; not only does she bring a believable sense of poetry...and self-assurance to Emily, she is also capable of conveying complex feeling succinctly, a talent shared by her historical heroine.  This novel has the possibility of being a book club juggernaut." - Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)"An original portrayal of Emily Dickinson seen here not just as a lover of words, but as a heroine and friend to a plucky Irish maid who casts a new and sympathetic light on the Belle of Amherst." - Sheila Kohler, author of Becoming Jane Eyre“I finished this morning and had to write to you straight away! My goodness—what a wonderful, wonderful book. I feel so privileged to have read it; I honestly cannot praise this book enough. Nuala O'Connor's beautiful writing sings from every single page as Emily and Ada's fascinating story unfolds. An absolute joy to read—I will be telling everyone about this book.” - Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home“Miss Emily is a triumph of a novel, creating an utterly human and believable Emily Dickinson through the eyes of an enchanting and complex fictional Irish woman. Their story is smart and witty and harrowing and brilliantly revelatory of the interplay of life and inspiration in a nascent great artist. And all this is done in prose that has the same condensed, particularizing power of Dickinson’s poetry. Nuala O’Connor has long been one of my favorite contemporary Irish writers. She will certainly find an ardently admiring American audience with this extraordinary novel.” - Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler“A jewel of a novel, Miss Emily by Nuala O'Connor is a fascinating, heartfelt, and captivating glimpse into the mind and heart of Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most beloved poets, interwoven with the story of her spirited, witty, and devoted Irish maid, Ada. With its luminous prose and sympathetic, realistically drawn characters, you will feel yourself irresistibly drawn into Emily’s and Ada’s private worlds with every turn of the page.” - Syrie James, bestselling author of Jane Austen’s First Love and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen“A superb novel, I was captivated from the first page. With gorgeous, compelling period detail and graceful prose, Nuala O’Connor reimagines a friendship between one of our greatest poets and her Irish maid. With uncanny insight into the expected portrayal of a servant-mistress relationship, and in keeping with the power and beauty of Dickinson’s poetry, O’Connor celebrates her women with great delicacy and exuberance.” - Kathleen Grissom, bestselling author of The Kitchen House"Beautifully written and utterly compelling, this vivid portrait of Emily Dickinson examines her humanity, complexity and profound relationship with words. Told in her own eloquent voice and that of her trusted maid, Miss Emily deftly braids together the stories two intriguing women in this highly accomplished novel." - Cathy Marie Buchanan, bestselling author of The Painted Girls“Nuala O'Connor casts a keen, compassionate eye below the veneer of domesticity to illuminate the passion, pain, and life force behind the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Quietly elegant and moving, poignantly humane, Miss Emily is a rare gift.” - Ania Szado, bestselling author of Studio Saint Ex"Nuala O'Connor's Miss Emily is evocative, thought-provoking, and beautifully rendered; a poignant portrait of two very different women, drawn together in unlikely friendship by a common strength of spirit and mind. Readers will delight in this richly imagined glimpse into the worlds--both inner and outer--of the immortal Emily Dickinson." - Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress