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Mr. Emerson's Wife

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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  626 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
In this novel about Ralph Waldo Emerson's wife, Lidian, Amy Belding Brown examines the emotional landscape of love and marriage. Living in the shadow of one of the most famous men of her time, Lidian becomes deeply disappointed by marriage, but consigned to public silence by social conventions and concern for her family's reputation. Drawn to the erotic energy and intellec
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Press
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(showing 1-30 of 1,191)
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Shannon
Jun 30, 2008 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shannon by: Lisa
Waldo's always irritated me, but this book seriously made me hate him more, while mitigating my dislike of Thoreau. A great book about an interesting woman, plus it features Scarlet fever, which is one of my favorite diseases. A must read for anyone who's ever wished they could go back in time and give Ralph Waldo Emerson a throat-punch.
Susan Bailey
Jul 27, 2011 Susan Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading the last few words, I slowly closed Mr. Emerson’s Wife and felt a welling up inside of emotion. I was so tied to the character of Lidian Jackson Emerson that I felt they were her emotions too.

This is how Amy Belding Brown’s book hit me. I lived inside of Mr. Emerson’s Wife for the last couple of weeks, crawling inside the head, the skin and the heart of Lidian Jackson Emerson. I loved Mr. Emerson as she loved him, felt the bitter disappointment and anger of promises not kept, and swooned
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Arapahoe Libraries
This is a beautiful debut novel featuring the portrait of a marriage between an independent, fascinating woman and one of America's greatest philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It's an extraordinary read in which the author brings the 19th century to life, and takes an imaginative leap combining fiction with factual history.

Once married, the intelligent and passionate Mrs. Emerson discovers her husband's secret obsession. After years of hurt and loneliness she moves beyond duty and ultimately suc
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Renee
Mar 20, 2010 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I have not, in recent history, read anything so profoundly disturbing. If it weren't the March selection for the book discussion group I've been attending I would have put it down before I was half done.

I only had a layman's knowledge of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists before starting this book. After reading it, I have no desire to read anything of Emerson's -- or about Emerson -- ever again. I realize that everyone is a product of their time -- no matter how enlightened they thi
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Karyl
Feb 26, 2010 Karyl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn into the story of Lydia (Lidian) Jackson from the very first few pages. It's rare that a book grips me so tightly, so I dove head-first into this novel and relished every second. It took me roughly two and a half days to get through this book, and only because I had a family to take care of in between reading sessions.

Lydia (renamed Lidian by her husband, Ralph Waldo Emerson) is a strong woman with strong convictions. Still unmarried in her early 30s, she has no interest in shacklin
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Melissa
Mar 30, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Written by an educator at Orchard House (Alcott's home), I was instantly intrigued--after all, I'm a musuem educator! I'm always cautious of books that take very famous people and imagine the rest of the story. Occasionally, I am horrified (though I rarely stop reading--it's that whole accident on a freeway syndrome). However, this book was fabulous. A wonderful psychological study of a woman who marries late in life to a genius--and finds that marriage to Emerson is not at all what she or he ex ...more
Judy
Feb 24, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly fascinating. I could not stop reading this book, and didn't pick it particularly because I'm interested in Emerson or Transcendentalism -- I was snowed in with a blizzard raging outside and needed diversion. Well, I definitely got it. This page-turner, beautifully written and well-crafted, is more an internal dialogue than a real work of historical fiction. Irving Stone's "Love is Eternal" came to mind when I was reading it, as that was another work that told the story of a great man thr ...more
Northshire Bookstore
If you find yourself yearning for the days when you first read the great 19th century authors, you will want to immerse yourself in this story. I suppose if there are women out there who are still looking for their soul mate, they will be able to take heart in the poignant and expertly rendered tale of Lydian Jackson Emerson and the great intellectual and emotional fever that infected both men and women of the time. Absolutely stunning historical fiction. -- Karen F.
Robin
Sep 18, 2016 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the novelized account of one woman's life, Amy Belding Brown captures the dilemma of all who expect to makeover marriage in their own style. The language and pace of the book recreate an era without becoming unnecessarily stilted to a modern ear. Of course, filling in the "cracks" - the authors own words - left me wanting to explore the work of those who held to a more factual account, such as Delores Bird Carpenter or Ellen Tucker Emerson.
Amy
Jul 22, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this story of a brilliant, independent woman of the 1800s and the complexities of being married to the famous writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. The author created an engaging love story, full of family challenges and interactions with other writers like Henry David Thoreau and the Alcotts.
Carol
Mar 11, 2016 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reader is drawn into the mind and problems of a 19th century American woman and I am glad I do not live in that time. The fact that she is married to Emerson, the famous transcendentalist does not negate how narrow her life is and how few chances she has to change it. Whether some of the material is true or not really doesn't matter. I was struck by the fact that disease was such a player in all these people lives. Thoreau would only live to his forties and many close members of Emerson's fa ...more
Christine Fay
Dec 13, 2015 Christine Fay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I’ve been meaning to read this novel for the past four or so years. It was a real treat to become Mrs. Emerson for a while, complete with her illicit love for Henry David Thoreau, one of her husband’s philosophical protégés. Her relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson, and her infatuation with Henry are woven into a very detailed, very believable work of fiction. A highly recommended read. Brown’s writing style puts the reader in the shoes of Ms. Lydia Jackson as she make sacrifices for the sake o ...more
Amye Robb
Mar 04, 2015 Amye Robb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this historical novel about the life of the wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson. This lady wasn't the typical simpering wife of the day, but rather she dealt forcefully with this strong-willed famous man as well as his mother and other family/friends who all lived with them in the same house. I enjoyed the wording the author used which rang true to the time period and how interesting it was that she influenced not only her famous husband's life and work but also that of Henry David Thoreau who ( ...more
Christine Garner
Meh. A bit buttoned-up and tedious...not without some interesting topics raised, as in the parallels between the lack of freedoms women in that era endured vs now, and also the question of what makes a "good" marriage...but really kind of plodding and not much of interest happens until the final third of the book. I don't feel we really get to know "Mr. Emerson's Wife" very well at all beyond the surface, though I think that happens a lot with fiction based on real people. Not a real page-turner ...more
Annette
Jan 18, 2016 Annette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read metaphysical writings by Emerson and was excited about getting to know the man from behind his philosophies. A man of great discipline, spending most of his time in his study room. After the death of his first wife and both brothers, he loses his faith in God and devotes himself to metaphysics.

This historical romance starts very strong with a lot of substance, but it doesn’t hold. I thought that creating a story about such two intelligent minds was bound to be a read with a lot of esse
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Lisa of Hopewell
Oct 11, 2013 Lisa of Hopewell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
My only question about Amy Belding Brown's Mr. Emerson's Wife is WHY did I leave it on my to read list so long! This was superb! It's one of those book I wish I had written--it's that "real" and that moving. These are not cardboard cutouts of famous men and women. These are REAL people and they come alive on Ms. Brown's pages. The passion, grief, longing, heartache, joy, lust, ennui, fickleness, commitment and endurance of a deeply-felt marriage is all right here in one book. These are not mere ...more
Barb
Anatomy of a Marriage

This was my book club's most recent selection. We read March by Geraldine Brooks last year and I thought this would be an interesting and related choice.

I don't think the cover is indicative of the story the book holds. And I don't agree with the quote from Susan Cheever on the cover, "A soaring imaginative leap, this book combines detailed history with a page-turning illicit love story." Don't be fooled, this is not a romance novel and it doesn't 'burn with passion'.

I hav
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Katie
May 03, 2009 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book caught my eye because I teach Mr. Emerson every year in my American Lit class and so I thought I would enjoy a novel about his wife. (I always like to get the female perspective too!). We'll see how it goes--the first few chapters seem good!

Ok, now I'm finished. I liked many things about this book--the references to women of the time period and Transcendentalism. Emerson's failings as a husband are pretty awful--I cannot imagine being married to a man still in love with his dead first
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Annie Falcke
I found this book profoundly sad. I read it over two days and it was one of those books I had to keep reading 'to get it over with'. I didn't want to live in its headspace for longer than absolutely necessary.

There was so much death, despair, and self-pity. I found the protagonist self righteous to start with, and then increasingly inconsistent and flimsy... Her portrait was painted as a 'sinner and a saint' without really sketching the grey area in between the two where the reality probably la
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Donna Kirk
Nov 17, 2007 Donna Kirk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apendix to original review:

This book is incredible. My friend Michele bought me a copy for my birthday. it's about ralph waldo emerson's wife. she is an amazing woman and her reticence to becoming a wife is heartfelt. her instinct to remian a strong self reliant female was over ridden by her deep love of emerson's lectures she witnessed in plymouth during cold winter nights. He proposed to her immediately after a few weeks having met her because of her strong mind and sensibilities. This book i
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Geri
Nov 18, 2014 Geri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Mr. Emerson's Wife byAmy Belding Brown
Amy Belding Brown has a gift for bringing historical characters to life. Her prose is so utterly believable and her imagination so vivid, I could not put this book down. I had not thought much about the transcendentalists since college and even then I thought Emerson and Thoreau rather dry and uninteresting but this book made me want to know more about their lives and beliefs and those whose lives so closely touched theirs.
Marion Goethals
Jun 15, 2016 Marion Goethals rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jacqueline
May 19, 2015 Jacqueline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the last few words, I slowly closed Mr. Emerson’s Wife and felt a welling up inside of emotion. I was so tied to the character of Lidian Jackson Emerson that I felt they were her emotions too. It would be easy to read this novel fast, but don't! Savor the beautiful language of the novel.It is reminiscent of the great writer's of the early 19th century. I love the book for its story, too, and the fleshed out historical characters, but the way that a book is written is everything. This is ...more
JoAnne Pulcino
Apr 05, 2011 JoAnne Pulcino rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful debut novel featuring the portrait of a marriage between an independent, fascinating woman and one of America's greatest philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson. It's an extraordinary read in which the author brings the 19th century to life, and takes an imaginative leap combining fiction with factual history. Once married, the intelligent and passionate Mrs. Emerson discovers her husband's secret obsession. After years of hurt and loneliness she moves beyond duty and ultimately s ...more
Susanmbuckingham
Aug 23, 2016 Susanmbuckingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book most of the way through, but I didn't like certain aspects of the authors treatment of HD Thoreau. Mostly, it's a wonderful historically based book about Emerson's wife that does a great job making this circle of transcendentalists more accessible and understandable while being a great piece of entertaining literature.
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill Manske
This was an interesting and informative book. I had no idea that forward-thinking people in the mid-1800's were discussing women's rights and equality between the genders. It was also an eye opener to realize how common it was for children and adults to die of illnesses that would be treated with antibiotics in a doctor's office today. The author made the characters very real and believable. But it's still historical fiction, emphasis on fiction. The author admits that she didn't have a lot of f ...more
Emma
Mar 26, 2016 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was very engaged in this story and felt connected to Lidian's character and troubles. However, I found her characterisation a bit too inconstant. I also wanted to read much more about her intellect and activity as an abolitionist, but there was mostly a focus on her children and distress as a wife. Mr Emerson was repulsive! As was Therou by the end.
Nancy Kent
Sep 12, 2010 Nancy Kent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing look into the life of Lydia Jackson Emerson, second wife of the great philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mr. Emerson (which is the way even his wife often referred to him) was rather cool and distant to her and even decided her name was too plain, so he decided to call her Lidian. I particularly enjoyed the special relationship Mrs. Emerson had with Henry David Thoreau, her husband's colleague.
This is a very intelligently written story of a marriage, with its many tribulations. The
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Stacy Krieg
Jan 23, 2016 Stacy Krieg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Loved this book bc it taught me a lot about the time period, historical events, Ralph waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and other things that history books make hard to read. The author ties in a love story where you so deeply want true love to win. Could not put down this book!!
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Amy Belding Brown, a graduate of Bates College, received her Master of Fine Arts degree in January 2002, from Vermont College of Norwich University, where she worked closely with Bret Lott and Victoria Redel. After living and working in central Massachusetts for nearly twenty years, she returned to her native Vermont in 2011, where she continues to write poetry and fiction. She is the author of Fl ...more
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