Miss Emily

Miss Emily has been long-listed for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016.

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The Noise of Timeinitially appears to be the latest addition to a hybrid literary form with which we are increasingly familiar the fictional biography. Recent examples range from Colm TibinsThe Master(which presented a repressed and unhappy Henry James) to Nuala OConnors excellentMiss Emily(which gave us a wilful and tormented Emily Dickinson).

Alex Preston, The Guardian

Miss Emily reimagines the private life of Emily Dickinson, one of Americas most beloved poets, through her own voice and through the eyes of her familys Irish maid.

Eighteen-year-old Ada Concannon has just been hired by the respected but eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Despite their difference in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide, Ada strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted elder daughter living a spinsters life at home. But Emilys passion for words begins to dominate her life. She will wear only white and avoids the world outside the Dickinson homestead. When Adas safety and reputation are threatened, however, Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

"...Irish writer Nuala OConnor breathes new life into reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in her mesmerizing U.S. debut. Like one of Dickinsons poems, the deceptively simple narrative packs a powerful punch..."

Margaret Flanagan in Booklist

"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 Dickinsons poetry. Nuala OConnor 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

"Miss presents its reader with a version of Emily Dickinson for the twenty-first century: an intensely private and reclusive woman who was as determined to live according to her own idiosyncratic rules, as she was to engage on her own terms with the world outside her Amherst home. In the spirit of her beloved Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot, this fictionalised Dickinson crosses class, national, and religious lines to reach out to her Irish maid Ada with compassion, empathy, and humanity. In eloquent prose, O'Connor has depicted a life-changing encounter between two very different women that celebrates their complexity, passion, and strength."

Praic Finnerty, author of Emily Dickinsons Shakespeare

"This beautifully-crafted biographical novel vividly evokes Emily Dickinson and her world: her obsessive solitude, her sensual relationship with her sister-in-law, her conflicted relationship with her brother, and, most central, her companionable friendship with Ada, a spunky and superstitious Irish maid. Alternating between the stories of Emily and Ada, the novel brims with the charming details of their domestic life, the unfolding of a sweet romance, yet also, ultimately, brings to light the tragic effects of a violent reality that most often goes unmentioned, even today. This is an intensely engaging, emotional and important story, exquisitely rendered. Brilliant!"

Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

"I read this wonderful novel in a gulp. Nuala OConnor is a gifted storyteller with a poets eye for detail. We are offered a tantalizing glimpse into the private life of one of Americas greatest poets, but for me, the real triumph is the character of Ada, Emilys young Irish maid. Its Ada who is the heart of this novel. Shes as beautifully realized as the gingerbread she so meticulously bakes with Emily. I cant wait to read what OConnor writes next."

Natasha Solomons, New York Times bestselling author of The House at Tyneford

"Like a Dickinson poem, Miss Emily seems at first a simple story of friendship, but gradually reveals itself as a profound meditation on the human condition. OConnor accomplishes this unfolding, just as Dickinson did, with her exquisite use of language. I lost myself in the beautiful detail of 1860s Amherst, a cast of characters that leapt off the page with life, and the constant reminder that words, properly wielded, can transcend time, transmit love, and, above all, inspire hope."

Charlie Lovett, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookmans Tale

"Miss Emily is an intricate, intimate novel that, in its careful attention to language, pays homage to our most American poet's extraordinary work. There are references to that work, rewards to true Dickinson aficionados, secreted in O'Connor's prose, but this novel achieves a broader aim too: it tells a story of friendship that keeps us turning the pages."

Kelly O'Connor McNees, author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and The Island of Doves

"Secrets will always out. In the same way as Emily Dickinsons poems were once the best kept secret in Massachusetts, Nuala OConnors luminous prose has long been one of Irelands most treasured literary secrets. Now through her superb evocation of 19th century Amherst, an international audience is likely to be held rapt by the sparse lyricism and exactitude of OConnors writing. Through a fusion of historical ventriloquism and imaginative dexterity, OConnor vividly conjures up in the real-life Emily Dickinson and the fictional Ada Concannon two equally unforgettable characters who pulsate with life in this study of the slowly blossoming friendship between a delicate literary recluse and a young Irish emigrant eager to embrace the new world around her."

Dermot Bolger playwright and author of The Journey Home

"A superb novel, I was captivated from the first page. With gorgeous, compelling period detail and graceful prose, Nuala OConnor 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 Dickinsons poetry, OConnor 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 of two intriguing women in this highly accomplished novel."

Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls

"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. I wanted to race through the novel, and yet, the language was so delicious and exciting that I forced myself to slow down, just enough to savor each sentence."

Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Traitors Wife and The Accidental Empress

"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 Americas 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 Emilys and Adas private worlds with every turn of the page."

Syrie James, author of Jane Austens First Love and The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

"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

"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, author of Studio Saint-Ex

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