New Book – The Lovers of Amherst by William Nicholson

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Publishing year: 2016

This new book has a few characters from Edenfield, but I don’t know if I could define it as a follow-up to the other books.

In this novel Alice Dickinson is the main character. She is now twenty-four, broke up with Jack a few years ago and is working as a copywriter. Yet, she has given the chance to present a script, and she wants to write a story about the adulterous love between Austin Dickinson and Mabel Todd. The story moves between the past of Austin and Mabel and the present with Alice.

Austin Dickinson was the brother of the American poetess Emily Dickinson. He was unhappily married, and then Mabel and David Todd came to Amherst. Mabel was 24 whereas Austin was 54. Mabel was friendly with the Dickinsons, especially Sue, Austin’s wife, and Ned, his son. However, it was Austin who called to her, and little by little they fell in love. In these parts we witness the evolution of their relationship. They profess each other love through letters and love, but their relationship is not physical. When Ned realized that his father and Mabel had feelings for each other that Mabel was not welcomed to the house so warmly, so Austin and Mable started to meet at his sisters’ home. It was there where they shared their first kisses, and we know that later they consume their love in Emily Dickinson’s dining room. Mabel was married, but from what we read here, it is clear that their marriage was quite unconventional for the time. David had confessed to her that he liked other women and even though he loved Mabel, he had the need for other women too. Their conversations were quite  peculiar, and when she hinted that she liked Austin a bit too much, David had no problems about his wife and another man at all. That was quite strange, especially considering the time these people were living in.

In present time Alice travels to Amherst to do some investigation about the subjects of her script. Jack has put her into contact with Nick Crocker, who used to be her mother’s boyfriend at university. Nick is married now, but from the first she realizes that Nick is quite the womanizer. Alice stays at his house, but his wife is away. They enjoy long talks, and they even have strong arguments as Alice finds his attitude to life and love wrong. It is clear that Alice is attracted to Nick, and sooner and later they will have their affair. It is interesting that there are many similarities between Nick and Alice, and Austin and Mabel. Both Austin and Nick are fifty-four, and Alice and Mabel twenty-four. Austin and Nick are both married, but we don’t know what kind of marriage Nick has. We haven’t seen his wife Peggy yet, but it is obvious that they have quite an open marriage as he makes no secret that he enjoys love with other women. Both Mabel and Alice feel attracted by their men’s intellect, but Alice also finds a great physical attraction.

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