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The Great Lover
Genre: Contemporary , Historical , Modern , Romance
Series: missing
Ratings: ★★★★☆☆
Publisher: Sceptre
Pub Year:
ISBN: 9780340935651
List Price: 0.00
Download: EPUB MOBI


Nell Golightly is living out her widowhood in Cambridgeshire when she receives a strange request: a Tahitian woman, claiming to be the daughter of the poet Rupert Brooke, writes to ask what he was like: how did he sound, what did he smell like, how did it feel to wrap your arms around him? So Nell turns her mind to 1909 when, as a seventeen-year-old housemaid, she first encountered the young poet. He was already causing a stir - not only with his poems and famed good looks, but also by his taboo-breaking behaviour and radical politics. Intrigued, she watched as Rupert skilfully managed his male and female admirers, all of whom seemed to be in love with him. Soon Nell realised that despite her good sense, she was falling for him too. But could he love a housemaid? Was he, in fact, capable of love at all? In a dazzling act of imagination, Jill Dawson gives voice to Rupert Brooke himself in a dual narrative that unfolds in both his own words and those of her spirited fictional character, Nell. A memorable tale of love in many guises, of heartbreak and loss, the novel brings Brooke vividly to life as it shows him to have been a far more interesting, complex and troubled figure than the romanticised version allows.

From Publishers Weekly

Dawson (Trick of Light) adroitly weaves together fact and fiction in this artful account of British poet Rupert Brooke's mental breakdown in the years before WWI. Boyishly handsome, Brooke arrives in Grantchester, England, and quickly begins a series of tangled romances. He woos a reserved schoolgirl, loses his virginity to a male friend, and flirts shamelessly with numerous women. Observing these ill-advised exploits is a no-nonsense housemaid, Nell Golightly, who, recently orphaned, thinks of herself as immune to love. Then one fateful evening she comes across Brooke naked, on his way for a night swim. Their subsequent relationship is complicated by class and Brooke's bisexuality. For Nell, the relationship poignantly marks the boundary between childhood and adulthood, while for Brooke, Nell provides a counterpoint to his other sexually confusing relationships. Finally, insecure about his poetry, grappling with his brother's death, and shattered by his failed affairs, Brooke begins to come undone, eventually finding solace with a Tahitian woman. Burrowing deep inside Brooke's mind, Nell is a capable narrator, and the result is a believable, sensitive portrayal of a great lover's search for love. (June)
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'Moving, intelligent, beautifully written and hugely enjoyable' -- Sunday Times 'Dawson brilliantly evokes Brooke's volatility, his inner dissolution and ultimate breakdown.' -- Independent 'Strong, satisfying and memorable' -- Helen Dunmore, The Times 'Not only engaging and seductive, it is also clever, witty and artfully designed' -- Times Literary Supplement 'An exceptional book even from the prize-winning Dawson -- clever, moving, sexy and with a mesmerising feel for that magical, optimistic, but doomed time just before the Great War' -- Daily Mail 'Nell is a wonderful creation: resilient, intelligent and heart-breakingly innocent ... [Dawson]manages not only an impressive evocation of Brooke's milieu but a compelling reassessment of a poet often dismissed by modern readers ... most of all, her novel digs Brooke out of that corner of a foreign field that is forever cliche' -- Time Out 'Jill Dawson has created a convincing world of huge pathos; a subtle, evocative anti-fairy-tale of doomed youth by one of Britain's most subtle and accomplished writers' -- Liz Jensen, Waterstone's Books Quarterly 'The Great Lover has many wonderful scenes ... But it is remarkable principally for its Rupert Brooke, glorious in all his agony and shame, particularly as he sees his sanity slipping away from him ... this novel shows a rare mastery of materials. Dawson has worked the imaginary character of Nell so seamlessly into the narrative of Brooke's life that Nell seems to belong there. It is difficult to see where the many direct quotations from letters and memories end and Dawson's imagination begins.' -- Daily Telegraph