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Afternoons with Emily    by Rose MacMurray order for
Afternoons with Emily
by Rose MacMurray
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Emily Dickinson has enthralled readers for years. Quiet and reclusive, she became one of the world's most famous poets, creating her poems amidst the loneliness of her room. The Dickinsons were a notable family in the quiet New England town of Amherst in the mid-nineteenth century. Author Rose MacMurray offers up a glimpse of this world through Emily Dickinson's eyes in her book Afternoons with Emily. The result is a fascinating peek into the turmoil swirling within the poet, within a vivid historical background.

Afternoons with Emily begins and ends with Emily Dickinson's death. Readers are quickly drawn into Emily's world through the main character of Miranda Chase. MacMurray chronicles Miranda's childhood, up until the time she meets Emily. Miranda is an intelligent lover of words, poetry, and legends. She is drawn to books and to questioning society's mores, often feeling out of place as she isn't a woman who merely talks about doilies, in Emily's words. Emily, hearing of Miranda's showdown with a local minister over conversion, requests a visit from Miranda, feeling she has found a like soul. The two form a friendship of sorts, Miranda enjoying the way Emily sharpens her conversation and wit. As Miranda grows, however, she begins to see deeper into Emily's personality. And when Miranda begins to discover her yearning for a career in educational reform, she is often caught between Emily and her own dreams.

Author Rose MacMurray creates an enticing novel, filled with her knowledge about Emily Dickinson's life. Entering Emily's secret chamber through the eyes and thoughts of Miranda Chase is an invitation many readers will find difficult to pass up. Entwined with Miranda's interesting life, and historical events from 1843 to 1886, the book provides a wonderful look at the hopes and fears of people at the time. The story is beautifully written. As it comes to an emotional conclusion, readers will be unable to put the book down, wondering where Miranda's loyalties and feelings will lead her.

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