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Afternoons with Emily : a novel
Rose MacMurray
Adult Fiction MACMURR

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From Publishers' Weekly:

An independent young woman comes of age under the influence of Emily Dickinson in this posthumous debut novel. (MacMurray, a public school poetry teacher, died in 1997.) Miranda Chase's childhood is an isolated one: her mother dies when she is nine and her busy scholar father provides his bright, inquisitive only daughter with a private tutor. A year-long sojourn in Barbados sets the stage for their move to Amherst, Mass., where her father teaches at the college. Miranda's unusual upbringing brings the 13-year-old to the attention of Amherst's famous recluse. Despite their 15-year age difference, Miranda becomes one of Emily's few regular visitors-and while she values her time with Emily (depicted imaginatively but gratingly; Emily speaks in capitals when she wishes to MAKE HER POINT), the relationship becomes more complicated as Miranda grows older and love, deaths, heartbreak and the Civil War intercede. Miranda begins a career in education and breaks away from Emily; the two clash with dramatic results. MacMurray knows well her "belle of Amherst," and the poet's friendship with a younger kindred spirit-which initially sets off gimmicky warning bells-becomes charming. This is really Miranda's story, but through it the poet and her poetry-in all their inconsistent genius-are served well. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

When Miranda Chase was 13, poet Emily Dickinson, who had heard of the girl's unconventional opinions, invited her to visit. Subsequent visits through the years reveal the complicated dimensions of Dickinson's genius. Miranda narrates MacMurray's posthumous (and only) novel, which follows Miranda from her isolated childhood to her success as an educational innovator. Many plot developments in Miranda's later life are heavily foreshadowed, including the deaths of her fiance in the Civil War and her best friend in childbirth. Plunging into her work to excite children about learning, Miranda eventually partners with a former tutor to open schools in New York and Amherst. However, letters Dickinson sends anonymously threaten to destroy Miranda's personal and professional reputation. A recurring question for readers is why anyone would tolerate Dickinson's behavior as shown here. Even her conversations are annoying, punctuated by random words in capital letters. The inclusion of Dickinson in an otherwise conventional historical novel may generate initial reader interest but could disappoint those who enjoy her poetry. Nevertheless, public libraries may need a copy or two to respond to anticipated publicity. [Prior to her death in 1997, MacMurray taught poetry in elementary schools and had been an amateur Dickinson scholar.--Ed.]--Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Emily Dickinson
Friends with Miranda; discusses books with Miranda over afternoon tea; charismatic; becomes angered when Miranda breaks away from her.

Miranda Chase
Mother died when she was nine; father is a scholar and college teacherr; bright; inquisitive; had a prviate tutor as a child; spent a year in Barbados; friends with Emily; enjoys her visits with Emily, but finds herself drifting away from Emily as she gets older and discovers herself; pursues a career in education.

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