Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Emily Dickinson: An American Enigma – Review of I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) The Morgan Library & Museum, January 20 through May 28, 2017.

"Who has not found the Heaven below will fail of it above. For Angels rent the house next ours, wherever we remove.” Lovingly Emily (Included in a letter from Emily Dickinson to her niece, Martha Dickinson and friend Sally Jenkins, 1883).

Family meant everything to Emily Dickinson as evidenced through her surviving correspondence hanging on the pink floral wallpaper in the replica period rooms of The Morgan Library exhibition.  Included on the wall, was a small framed engraving of poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning which turned out to be one of Dickinson’s favorite poets. Framed under glass was the 1848 edition of Currer Bell’s, Jane Eyre. Dickinson borrowed this copy from her father’s business partner, Elbridge Bowdoin. She returned it to him with this note,

“If all the leaves were altars, and on every one a prayer that Currer Bell might be saved and you were God would you answer it?” Bowdoin did not reply to Dickinson, instead noted, “the leaves mentioned were Box leaves sent to me in a little bouquet.” These are just some of the aspects of the woman behind this fascinating poet.

Emily Dickinson's brother, William Austin Dickinson

I found myself standing in front of numerous framed Dickinson correspondence written to her family members: her handsome brother, William Austin Dickinson, her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert Dickinson, her sister, Lavinia Dickinson as well as other personal friends throughout her life. As I read through her letters on exhibit, I couldn’t help but giggle to myself because of her wry and warm sense of humour. For instance, when her sister Lavinia, returned home on the evening of June 27, 1873, from an organ concert by Howard Parkhurst, Emily penciled the lines of her poem, A Little Madness in the Spring, on the concert program:

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King
But God be with the clown
Who ponders this Tremendous scence
This sudden legacy of Green
As if it were his own-

She included such adjectives: gay/bright/quick/whole, swift/fleet.

Handwritten copies of her most well-known poem which the exhibition is named for, I’m Nobody! Who are you?, can be read in two framed handwritten pages.  For instance, in one version written around six months after the outbreak of the Civil War, she penciled in the word banish along the upper margin. Also the word advertise is penciled in the other handwritten version.

I was absolutely thrilled to be able to leaf through her private copy of her gardening book called, Herbarium. Her passion for flowers, herbs, and gardening was evident in her poetry and life as well as her bond of friendship and family which always seeped into her poems.

I urge everyone to visit The Morgan Library & Museum; especially for an unforgettable glimpse into the private world of this enigmatic woman and poet,  Emily Dickinson. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Currently Reading: Over The Hills And Far Away: The Life Of Beatrix Potter by Matthew Dennison

 US Publication Edition - Advanced Reading Copy
Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: April 4th 2017 by Pegasus Books 
ISBN 1681773503
Beatrix Potter is one of the world's bestselling, most cherished authors, whose books have enchanted generations of children for over a hundred years. Yet how she achieved this legendary status is just one of several stories of Beatrix Potter's remarkable and unexpected life. 
Inspired by the twenty-three 'tales', Matthew Dennison takes a selection of quotations from Potter's stories and uses them to explore her multi-faceted life and character: repressed Victorian daughter; thwarted lover; artistic genius; formidable countrywoman. They chart her transformation from a young girl with a love of animals and fairy tales into a bestselling author and canny businesswoman, so deeply unusual for the Victorian era in which she grew up. 

Embellished with photographs of Potter's life and her own illustrations, this short biography will delight anyone who has been touched by Beatrix Potter's work.

 UK Hardcover Edition
Published October 6, 2016
Head of Zeus Publishing

You can expect a full review soon. I am enjoying reading 'Over the Hills and Far Away' immensely. Personally, I prefer the above US cover but to each his own, as the saying goes!  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My favorite books of 2016~

First of all, every end of year I post a list of my top five favorite novels published this year. They are of various genres, though mainly nineteenth-century in subject matter and theme.  The only criteria really is that the entire novel or biography has to have captured me completely! 

Alright, so mid-year when I requested a review copy from the U.K. publisher I never imagined the author would become my boyfriend!~ So, forgive me for making this a top pick but come on it led to true love.

Anne Brontë, the youngest and most enigmatic of the Brontë sisters, remains a bestselling author nearly two centuries after her death. The brilliance of her two novels and her poetry belies the quiet, truthful girl who often lived in the shadow of her more outgoing sisters. Yet her writing was the most revolutionary of all the Brontës, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable. This revealing new biography opens Anne’s most private life to a new audience, and includes unpublished letters from Anne to the family to which she was governess as well as first publication of a controversial image that could be the only photograph of the three Brontë sisters.

To purchase Amazon UK

 You can never go wrong with an Essie Fox novel. She truly has become one of my favorite authors and a go to for a intelligently written, Gothic themed story. I have read all of her previous novels and she just keeps getting better~! 
During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the seaside town of Brightland. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey.

Enchanted by the image, Ed learns Leda Grey is still living - now a recluse in a decaying cliff-top house she once shared with a man named Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois's muse and lover, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect.

But, while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality, leaving Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century - until the secrets of her past result in a shocking climax, more haunting than any to be in found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois.

To purchase Amazon UK

Highly recommended for any admirer of photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. I fell in love with this book. It is truly beautiful.

"The Victorians admired Julia Margaret Cameron for her evocative photographic portraits of eminent men like Tennyson, Carlyle and Darwin. However, Cameron also made numerous photographs that she called 'Fancy subjects', depicting scenes from literature, personifications from classical mythology, and Biblical parables from the Old and New Testament. This book is the first comprehensive study of these works, examining Cameron's use of historical allegories and popular iconography to embed moral, intellectual and political narratives in her photographs. A work of cultural history as much as art history, this book examines cartoons from Punch and line drawings from the Illustrated London News, cabinet photographs and autotype prints, textiles and wall paper, book illustrations and engravings from period folios, all as a way to contextualise the allegorical subjects that Cameron represented, revealing connections between her 'Fancy subjects' and popular debates about such topics as Biblical interpretation, democratic government and colonial expansion."

To purchase Amazon UK

Barbara Erskine has become another favorite author. I have been reading her books since the nineties when I discovered, "Lady of Hay." Time slip novels, impeccably researched by the author herself, a historian. Her novels are layered with rich period detail; you feel transported.

Two women, centuries apart. One endless nightmare tearing Wales apart – and only they can stop it.

Sunday Times bestselling author Barbara Erskine returns to Hay in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of her sensational debut bestseller, Lady of Hay.

Hay-On-Wye, 1400 – War is brewing in the Welsh borders, Catrin is on the brink of womanhood and falling in love for the first time. Her father is a soothsayer, playing a dangerous game playing on the mixed loyalties and furious rivalries between welsh princes and English lords. For two hundred years, the Welsh people have lain under the English yoke, dreaming of independence. And finally it looks as though the charismatic Owain Glyndwr may be the man legend tralks of. In the walls of Sleeper’s Castle, Catrin finds herself caught in the middle of a doomed war as she is called upon to foretell Wales’s destiny… And what she sees, is blood and war coming closer…

Hay, 2015. Miranda has moved to Sleeper’s Castle to escape and grieve. Slowly she feels herself coming to life in the solitude of the mountains. But every time she closes her eyes her dreams become more vivid. And she makes a connection with a young girl, who’s screaming, who’s reaching out… who only Miranda can help. Is she losing herself to time?

To purchase Amazon UK

Sometimes it takes a beautiful cover to intrigue you (It is a real autochrome by the way). There is nothing better than an old fashioned romance between a young strawberry girl and a painter (then unknown now world renowned). A true romance filled with pain and sadness. Right up my alley!

Summer 1893, and the Norwegian fishing village of Åsgårdstrand is preparing for the arrival of well-to-do guests and bohemian artists from the city. Local girl Johanne Lien dutifully gathers berries for tourists and poses barefoot for painters as ‘The Strawberry Girl’.

Johanne becomes a maid for the wealthy Ihlen family, whose wayward daughter Tullik recruits her as a go-between in her pursuit of the controversial painter Edvard Munch. Before long, Johanne is drawn into the raw emotion of Munch’s art and his secret liaison with Tullik. But when she is asked to hide more than just secrets, Johanne must decide whether to take the risk…

Lisa Stromme brings alive the tumultuous love affair that inspired one of the most famous paintings of all time, in a vivid and bewitching story of innocence, creativity and desire.

To purchase Amazon UK

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and a love sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Sonnet IV: LoveSight by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 

(Read by actor, Aiden Turner who played
Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Desperate Romantics)

Forgive me but I am in a romantic mood...

When do I see thee most, beloved one? 
When in the light the spirits of mine eyes 
Before thy face, their altar, solemnize 
The worship of that Love through thee made known?
Or when in the dusk hours, (we two alone,)
Close-kissed and eloquent of still replies 
Thy twilight-hidden glimmering visage lies, 
And my soul only sees thy soul its own? 
O love, my love! if I no more should see 
Thyself, nor on the earth the shadow of thee,
Nor image of thine eyes in any spring,— 
How then should sound upon Life's darkening slope 
The ground-whirl of the perished leaves of Hope,
The wind of Death's imperishable wing?

Merry Christmas Dear Ones!
I hope you all are enjoying your holiday wherever you may be
Thank you all for making my year such an enjoyable one.
Especially to my love, Nick,  for your love and friendship xx

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A review of The Reception of Alfred Tennyson in Europe

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) has often been considered a particularly British writer in part as his official post as Poet Laureate inevitably committed him to a certain amount of patriotic writing. This volume focuses on his impact on the continent, presenting a major scholarly analysis of Tennyson's wider reception in different areas of Europe. It considers reader and critical responses and explores the effect of his poetry upon his contemporaries and later writers, as well as his influence upon illustrators, painters and musicians. The leading international contributors raise questions of translation and publication and of the choices made for this purpose along with the way in which his ideas and style influenced European writing and culture. Tennyson's reputation in Anglophone countries is now assured, following a decline in the years after his death. This volume enables us to chart the changes in Tennyson's European reputation during the later 19th, 20th and 21st centuries

Published: 11-17-2016
Format: E Pub Book Edition: 1st Extent: 416 ISBN: 9781350012530 
Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic Series: The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe 
Illustrations: 9 b/w illustrations List price: $201.99

This new edition is for every person who loves the poetry and dramas of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892). His early poetry and major works are analyzed, dissected, by the nineteenth-century critics of the day from France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Russia and Bulgaria. Translations of his works are included which is fascinating to read. You can see the changes made to tone and content depending upon the European regional dialects. I really enjoyed discovering the various viewpoints of not only Lord Tennyson's works but many personal positive and negative opinions shared about the poet laureate during his lifetime.  

It is always difficult for me, personally, to read the negative critiques of the man vs. his works because I know how sensitive and empathetic he was. As with every artist, we do not like to always read the 'bashing' of our heartfelt writings. He took everything to heart and kept it inside. Anyway, this edition does very well in providing the reader with a well-rounded viewpoint. It is up to each person to take away from it what they will. If you love reading his major works, from the European standpoint it is here in full. If you enjoy learning more about the reviews of his works then they are here as well. 

This edition made for fascinating reading because it helped me view the poet laureate from a different perspective and I always learn new things about poets and writers of the nineteenth-century.  

Thank you to Bloomsbury Academic for your ebook review edition.