Book Review: Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor


Do you ever wish you could be transported to another time? Not a time in your life, but someone else’s? Maybe a different century altogether?

Nuala O’Connor Miss Emily is one of those stories that drives you to a charming era of propriety and community. The story recounts a chapter of famed poet Emily Dickinson’s life with the added twist of a fictional servant named Ada and uses their dual perspectives to explore personal evolution in a space of isolation. Ada, a newly arrived immigrant from Ireland, begins to forge a path in a physically and at times culturally foreign land, while Emily, a member of the family that Ada works for, withdraws into herself for reasons beyond her usual disconnect with her family.

The lead characters are fierce and largely independent, who, in different circumstances, help one another and eventually develop a unique friendship. The innocence and loveliness to these characters pull you into O’Connor’s Austen-styled world, a simpler time altogether. I would not go as far as to say that O’Connor has the same gift and style as Austen, but her story craftmanship is strong enough that it will make you want to become as lost in it as Emily Dickinson herself (at least, how lost we imagine her to have been; and imagination really is the ticket to any good piece of fiction.)

I was given an ARC of Miss Emily in exchange for an honest review by Penguin Canada. Miss Emily is now available for purchase in Canada.