A New England Affair - Book Review

A New England Affair - Book Review

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Posted 2017-12-27 by Svetlana Tishchenkofollow
1965. The great poet, TS Eliot, is dead. Hearing the news, the seventy-two year old Emily Hale points her Ford Roadster towards the port of Gloucester, where a fishing boat will take her out to sea, near the low, treacherous rocks called the Dry Salvages, just off Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Over the course of that day, clutching a satchel of letters, Emily Hale slips between past and present, reliving her life with Eliot – starting with that night in 1913, the moment when her life turned, when the young Tom Eliot and Emily Hale fell deeply in love with each other. But Tom moved to London to fulfil his destiny as the famous poet 'TS Eliot', and Emily went on to become his muse – the silent figure behind some of the greatest poetry of the 20th century – his friend and his confidante. But never did she become his lover or his wife.


Book review in one sentence? - I cried my eyes out all through the book.

Why? I guess, this book hit too close to home. I know all about unreal expectations, broken promises, waiting, hoping, imagining, planning. I know very well what it is like to watch life go by while you are waiting for something to happen, for him to make a decision, to make a step...

I read this book, not as a literary critic or scholar in literature, or even somebody who knows TS Eliot works. I do not. I do not know TS Eliot works. I hardly ever read poetry, let alone poetry in English. I read this book as a woman. I read this book as someone who has been in a similar situation. I have been Emily to my Tom. I have been waiting. Moreover, I have been left waiting and hoping ONLY BECAUSE I'VE DECIDED SO. It was only my doing and no one else.... I have been Emily.

Back to the book review. I believe this book will cause a stir in Eliot-scholar community. It will call for answers (in waiting for Emily Hale's archives to be opened). Also, I believe this book needs to be read together with all the others in the quartet.

However, if you are reading this book and this book only, please be kind. Be kind to Emily and even kinder to Tom. This book is their story that climaxed on 31st June 1939.

No, I did not make a mistake. 31st June 1939 is the date Emily wrote in her diary. It is the day. It is THE DAY. Afterwards, everything went down. After this date, everything unfolded and unravelled. After this date, A New England Affair stepped from the world of imagination, hopes and wishes into the real world of broken promises, rejected love confessions and marriages to other people.

Emily Hale waited all her life for the 'right time'. She waited for the moment when her love would become real and when she would become real in Tom's world. He promised her that. She lived by that promise.

Read this book if you know and love TS Eliot. Read this book if you love 'literary love stories'. But most importantly, read this book if you are one of the Emily's and Tom's of this world.

Watch and learn.

P.S. This book is not a light read. It is not a train-ride read as well. This book is a project on its own. You will need time, a quiet place and a quiet mind to read this book. Give it its due. It will be worth it.

NOTE: Steven Carroll was nominated for Victorian Premier's Literary Award for this novel A New England Affair

To purchase this book, please visit any good book store. The cost to join this wonderful and soul-searching journey is $29.99 (paperback)

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86530 - 2023-06-11 07:23:59

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