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The Great Lover: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, June 1, 2010

3.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061924369
  • ASIN: B004JZWR1W
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,863,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jill Dawson is one of Britain's most talented contemporary writers. She began publishing at the age of 22 by winning first prize in a national short story competition. She went on to win an Eric Gregory Award for poetry, and published her first novel, Trick of the Light, in 1996. She is the author of six novels, editor of six anthologies of poetry and short stories, and has published one poetry pamphlet. Fred & Edie, her third novel, was shortlisted for both the Whitbread and Orange Prize, and was voted one of 50 essential novels by a living author by Guardian readers in the UK.
She has held many fellowships, including the British Council Fellowship in Amherst, and the Creative Writing Fellowship at University of East Anglia, Norwich, where she taught on the Writing MA.
In 2006 she received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her writing and her work with new writers.
Her latest novel, The Great Lover, was selected as a Summer Read for 2009 by TV's Richard and Judy Book Club.
Jill Dawson is currently director of Gold Dust, a mentoring scheme which pairs new writers with big-name established writers. www.gold-dust.org.uk
Her own website is here: www.jilldawson.co.uk

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
April, 1982. Ninety year old Nell Golightly receives a surprising letter from Tahiti. A 67 year old woman would like to know something of her father, whom she never met. Somehow her letter finds its way to Nell, who worked as a maid, many years ago, at the Orchard House in Grantchester where the lady's father lived for a time. The man she is inquiring about is the English poet, Rupert Brooke.

This letter forms the basis for Nell's story. Beginning in 1909, she relates her life as a young woman working to support her brothers & sisters after their parents have died, and her meeting and infatuation with the young Cambridge student who comes to live at the Orchard. Rupert Brooke (his picture is above, beautiful isn't he?) is charismatic, charming, talented, even slightly wicked. Nell watches his interactions with women (and men) and despite both she finds herself romantically captivated and intellectually challenged by this fascinating man:

"Here we stop...and I acknowledge to myself the one hard fact that, despite my nature, it has taken me so long to face. There is no request Rupert could make of me that I would refuse. Whatever the pledge between me and God, this is the truth."

As a counterpoint to Nell's story, we get Rupert's own, told from his perspective in alternating sequences. Here it is revealed how much of his outer persona is a sham. He is terribly unsure of himself, sexually inexperienced, not confident of himself as a lover or a writer. He longs for peace, time to think and be alone with his thoughts, though he is constantly and almost randomly infatuated with different people:

"...There are only two ways of approaching relationships. One is only to allow love on the supposition that it may lead to marriage-the other is- the wandering way.
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1 Comment 11 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Rupert Brooke arrives in Grantchester, England where he runs the gamut of relationships. He is attracted to a reticent schoolgirl, but flirts outrageously with any female he meets. A male friend seduces Rupert into his first sexual encounter.

In 1909 prim and proper housemaid Nell Golightly has watched Rupert's carouse and thinks he is shameless. Since her parents died, she vowed to never fall in love as that hurts the survivor. However, Nell falls into swooning lust when she runs into Rupert as he goes for a skinny dip swim. They begin a tryst, but he turns increasingly morose as his myriad of affairs leave him without solace at a time he grieves the death of his brother and doubts his poetry writing skills. Instead of turning to Nell, he rejects her for a Tahitian.

Nell makes this deep biographical fiction of the Pre WW I era British poet Rupert Brooke come alive as she tells the tale of a talented young man who confused making love with being in love while ironically he sought love everywhere he went. Although he is The Great Lover, in Nell's mind her Rupert also lacked confidence in sustaining and receiving love and his talent as a poet. Jill Dawson provides a powerful perceptive portrait of a man questing for love.

Harriet Klausner
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I have read many biographies about Rupert Brooke but this is the first time he has to come to life for me. She has given him flesh and blood. He no longer seems a distant, unreal poet of a past long gone. Good for her.
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Quite a bit of very sexual content - which made sense in the context of the story, but far, far too graphic for my taste. It's the story of Rupert Brooke - but it didn't need the lurid descriptions.
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