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The Sister: A Novel of Emily Dickinson

af Paola Kaufmann

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483523,815 (3.5)6
A tale based on the life of the reclusive poet follows Emily Dickinson's precarious relationship with her parents, her hidden passions and aspirations, her secret views on religion and love, and her interactions with the men in her life, in a story told from the perspective of her younger sister, Lavinia.--… (mere)
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A sympathetic fictional biography of Emily Dickinson, told by her younger sister Lavinia. I knew next to nothing about Emily, bar the odd lines from her poems ('Because I could not stop for death' and 'Hope is a thing with feathers'), but Paola Kaufmann relates the key details in a flowing yet succinct narrative. The court case in the final chapter was perhaps the most gripping revelation, but troubled Emily and her family reminded me of the Brontes throughout. And I can certainly understand why Emily disappeared upstairs to her room and never talked to strangers again! Atmospheric and effective. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jul 29, 2013 |
An Emily Dickinson historical novel....
  grheault | Aug 26, 2012 |
The "sister" of the title is Lavinia Dickinson, younger sister of the poet Emily Dickinson. Kaufmann uses 'Vinnie' as a first person narraot--an interesting choice since she is a strong figure in the background of the Dickinson household but one about whom little was known until her later legal battles with Mabel Loomis Todd. Neither a creative artist like Emily nor a charismatic personality like her brother Austin, Vinnie was the glue that often kept the family together. Her main purposes in life, once her one and only lover left her abandoned, was to adore Austin, whatever his faults; to protect Emily, both during her life and after her death; and to maintain the household by caring for a string of ailing family members, housekeeping, and running errands. Yet she never seems to feel cheated out of a life of her own.

Kaufmann's Vinnie recalls all the major events familiar to those who have read about the Dickinsons: her father's austerity; Austin's marraige to Sue Gilbert and his adulterous affair with Mabel Loomis Todd; her mother's lingering illness and what was likely depression; Emily's relationships with the three most significant men in her life and her decline into a neurotic isolation. The last quarter of the book focuses on Vinnie's legal quarrels with Mabel Loomis Todd over both the editing and publication of Emily's poems and a plot of land that Austin had deeded to the Todds. Torn between her revulsion of public scandal and her devotion to Emily and the family, Vinnie made the difficult choice to take the Todds to court--and won.

The Sister was a fairly good read, but I think it might be better for those who don't know a lot about the Dickinsons. Having read Lives Like Loaded Guns less than a year ago and several biographies earlier, much of this was too familiar ground to me, and I didn't feel that the character of Vinnie was compelling enough to keep me interested. ( )
1 stem Cariola | May 15, 2011 |
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A tale based on the life of the reclusive poet follows Emily Dickinson's precarious relationship with her parents, her hidden passions and aspirations, her secret views on religion and love, and her interactions with the men in her life, in a story told from the perspective of her younger sister, Lavinia.--

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