Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Amherst

Top 5 Reasons This Novel Sounds Intriguing:
1. Emily Dickinson's life was fascinating and atypical.
2. Dickinson's poems have resonated with me since high school.
3. I love novels that combine timelines in the past and present.
4. I like that the novel centers around the themes of passion and love.
5. I know virtually nothing about Dickinson's family.

From an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and the author of Motherland, a novel about two love affairs set in Amherst—one in the present, one in the past, and both presided over by Emily Dickinson.

Alice Dickinson, a young advertising executive in London, decides to take time off work to research her idea for a screenplay: the true story of the scandalous, adulterous love affair that took place between a young, Amherst college faculty wife, Mabel Loomis Todd, and the college’s treasurer, Austin Dickinson, in the 1880s. Austin, twenty-four years Mabel’s senior and married, was the brother of the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, whose house provided the setting for Austin and Mabel’s trysts.

Alice travels to Amherst, staying in the house of Nick Crocker, a married English academic in his fifties. As Alice researches Austin and Mabel’s story and Emily’s role in their affair, she embarks on her own affair with Nick, an affair that, of course, they both know echoes the affair that she’s writing about in her screenplay.

Interspersed with Alice’s complicated love story is the story of Austin and Mabel, historically accurate and meticulously recreated from their voluminous letters and diaries. Using the poems of Emily Dickinson throughout, Amherst is an exploration of the nature of passionate love, its delusions, and its glories. This novel is playful and scholarly, sexy and smart, and reminds us that the games we play when we fall in love have not changed that much over the years.

We have one copy of Amherst to give to one of our lucky readers. This giveaway is open to residents of the US. You must be 18+ years of age to win. Reading Lark is not responsible for prize delivery; the book will be shipped by the publisher.

The giveaway runs from March 17-24. Winner will be notified via email on March 25.


  1. I am so glad I subscribe to this blog by email; unfortunately I don't have the time to read the content you post most days. But, there is awesome stuff I am so glad I avoid missing through getting the daily emails -- like this giveaway! I had been looking forward to this book's release for months in advance. Besides some good hype that tipped me off originally, biographical (historical) literary fiction is my favorite subgenre in the whole wide world of books. So this book is a must-read for me; thanks so much for featuring it here and giving us this great opportunity to own it for free! Cheers, Kara S

  2. I want to win because I've always love Emily Dickinson's poetry, and I'm fascinated by her life story.

  3. I want to win because of my love for a good love story and especially because of Emily Dickinson's poetry throughout the book. Can't bypass the word "Amherst."

  4. I want to win this book because one of my 400 level classes while earning my English degree centered solely on Emily Dickinson. I am a huge liker of everything Dickinson.


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