A revelatory novel about the poet Rupert Brooke from the Orange and Whitbread-shortlisted author of FRED AND EDIE
Jill Dawson is the author of TRICK OF THE LIGHT, MAGPIE, FRED AND EDIE, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize, WILD BOY, WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, and THE GREAT LOVER. In addition she has edited six anthologies of short stories and poetry. She has held many Fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, where she taught on the MA in Creative Writing course. She lives in the Fens with her husband and two sons.
Moving, intelligent, beautifully written and hugely enjoyable - Sunday TimesDawson brilliantly evokes Brooke's volatility, his inner dissolution and ultimate breakdown. - IndependentStrong, satisfying and memorable - Helen Dunmore, The TimesNot only engaging and seductive, it is also clever, witty and artfully designed - Times Literary SupplementAn 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 MailNell 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 clich? - Time OutJill 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 QuarterlyThe 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
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) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.