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Emily & Herman: A Literary Romance Hardcover – April 1, 2013

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Healey’s documentary films are about writers, as is his first novel. It’s the summer of 1851, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville are traveling to New York City. They stop at the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts, and Emily and her brother, Austin, decide to join them. Later they meet up with Walt Whitman and William Johnson, a runaway slave. The group’s unbridled adventures include a disastrous tryst, outdoors sex, swimming and boating, a dinner-party flirtation, and scandalous love between Emily the intrepid maiden and married Herman, who has nearly finished Moby-Dick. Healey takes wildly libidinous liberties, often to ludicrous effect. But he also channels his venerable subjects in passages of coruscating beauty as he describes sensuous landscapes and the complex spiritual and moral quandaries preoccupying his brainy, wily, and yearning characters. Not the first to imagine the sex lives of these revered writers––see Jerome Charyn’s The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson (2010) and Jay Parini’s The Passages of H. M. (2010)—Healey does succeed in turning his heady love story into a genuinely insightful homage. --Donna Seaman

Review

Healey takes wildly libidinous liberties... But he also channels his venerable subjects in passages of coruscating beauty as he describes sensuous landscapes and the complex spiritual and moral quandaries preoccupying his brainy, wily, and yearning characters. - Donna Seaman

“[Healey] channels his venerable subjects in passages of coruscating beauty as he describes sensuous landscapes and the complex spiritual and moral quandaries preoccupying his brainy, wily, and yearning characters . . . . a genuinely insightful homage.” (Booklist)

“This is a wondrous and engaging novel. Healey lifts the lid off nineteenth century American Literature revealing the glory of possibility. I was deeply taken by his story.” (Jim Harrison)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611458307
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611458305
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,954,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was ready to dismiss this novel but found it compelling and followed Healey to an unlikely conclusion:
a dreamy interlude that kept me suspended in disbelief throughout most of the book, whilst rescuing Emily from her
normally chaste corner of lit. history, a juicy Transcendentalist Triangle! and well written...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Healey's book takes you on a journey through the 1850's New England and New York. His descriptions have literary magic and his story addresses both deep philosophical and social questions interwoven with grace and insight both of character and of behaviour. Nice work!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a gem of a book that succeeds in encapsulating through the imaginary encounters of Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Walt Whitman, the rich pre-civil war era debates which would tear the nineteenth century constricting social fabric and lead to the liberating revolutions linked to sex, gender, race and religion in the next hundred and fifty years. Reading this novel was enthralling! I take my hat off to John J. Healey's exquisite writing. Not only did he offer wonderfully worded period descriptions of Massachusetts and New York which set off my imagination with dreamy pictorial evocations but he succeeded in giving full flesh to these cherished literary giants and made them lively through witty and interesting dialogs. But what really did it for me was to be swept away by Emily and Herman's burgeoning love and to vicariously live the blossoming of their sensuous passion. I strongly recommend this novel!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An enriching accomplished novel, precise, abreast in tones, depth and melodies, circumscribed within a few months in mid XIXth century New England and a handful of characters, masterfully portrayed, and at once a conscientious, humane and contemporary stance that pertains us all.

The stance of the author, the celebration of Melville, the counterpoints of Dickinson and of the puritan society they questioned but embraced, and also the celebration of New England, and of the family, and of respect, and of doing good.

Melville the acute social philosopher, the gifted and virtuous, the man of action, the myriad stories that concur, read flawlessly-the depth of thought and feeling communicated call for a film to be made -a film of many silences, for only silences can conjure the ardent intimacy of Melville's and Dickinson's own personnas.

Much more than a literary romance, a the cover informs, Emily and Herman is a light-filled impressionistic exhibition of scenes of young life, a counterpointic symphonic allegro of passions acknowledged and willingly restrained, a virtuoso's raptured improvisation, Herman and Emily playing out their roles of the moment in anguished expectation, life unrolling, setting its cast, and passing, an imprint, a stance of affirmation and generosity, without hesitations, pettiness or complications, fresh and mature, masterfully delivered...an endearing and enriching read. Congratulations and thanks to Mr. Healy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First thing said: I love this novel. The prose was a pleasure to read, the play of ideas a delight, the characters believable and engaging.

Along with a fully realized evocation of mid-nineteenth century Amherst and New York City, John Healey manages to effectively write himself inside the minds of his subjects: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville and Emily Dickenson. Their adventures and conversation had me absorbed.

Perhaps what I enjoyed most is the love story between the twenty-year-old Emily and the older married Melville. Persuasive and touching - Healey renders this unlikely pairing, this meeting of temperament and mind, most effectively.

There's a lot of laugh-out-loud earthy humor in the book as well! "Emily and Herman": highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I'll keep it short and simple
I read Emily & Herman when it first came out and two years later I still have vivid images of the story on my mind.
It truly feels much better if one believes that those imaginary encounters took place in real life.
Just read it!
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