Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor (2015)

emilyI have probably only read snatches of Emily Dickinson’s poetry throughout my life, but I have always been touched by those tiny glimpses of her work. After reading Miss Emily, I really want to explore her personal story and poetry more.

Nuala O’Connor is an Irish author who has published novels and short stories. She also writes under the name Nuala Ní Chonchúir.


Ada Concannon, a poor eighteen-year old, decides to leave her family in Ireland to seek a new life and better prospects in America. She becomes a housemaid in the home of the also young, but very privileged Emily Dickinson. Although she is normally reclusive, Emily is eager to get to know Ada and slowly a friendship grows between the two young women much to the disapproval of Emily’s family.

Miss Emily was a tender and sweet story that I instantly adored for so many reasons. I couldn’t help falling for both characters: Ada for her sensible nature and wish for a better life, and Emily in all of her pure, imaginative glory as a legendary poet in the making.

Miss Emily was wonderful to read and I have nothing but good feelings for the book.

Miss Emily may sound like a quiet story about a beautiful friendship, but it’s also a story about class conflict. The class and racial discrimination, as well as sexual harassment, Ada endures in the story was a striking contrast to Emily’s sheltered, innocent life. However, despite the serious themes imbued in the story, I really appreciated the light tone of the book and steady pace of the story. I raced to read this book at every opportunity I could find because it was so good.

4.5/5 Stars

NOTE: I received a copy of Miss Emily with much thanks to Penguin Canada, but this in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.

9 comments on “Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor (2015)

  1. janceewright
    June 20, 2015

    I haven’t read much of her poetry either, but her life fascinates me!


    • ebookclassics
      June 20, 2015

      Ideally, I would love to read her biography and poetry at the same time. I’m not good with poetry, but have found her poetry to be very accessible.


  2. Brian Joseph
    June 20, 2015

    This sounds good. However I am always torn when it comes to books like this. The same is true for authors biographies and other works about artists. That is weather to read the authors themselves, or these books about the authors. Reading time is so very precious.


    • ebookclassics
      June 22, 2015

      I really like your point because it occurred to me as well. I feel like it would be better to read the authors themselves first and become familiar with their work, then the biographies to have a better understanding of the context that inspired or influenced the work. What do you think? Did you come to a conclusion?


  3. Naomi
    June 20, 2015

    This is on my to-read list – I love fictional accounts of historical figures. Even better when they are writers. So glad to hear you loved it! Did you learn a lot about Dickinson, or was it just a nice story?


    • ebookclassics
      June 22, 2015

      I think you will really like this book. It was more of a nice story than a profile of Emily Dickinson. I feel like the author may have wanted to see what it was like to see through Emily’s eyes before she became a complete recluse.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor | Consumed by Ink

  5. Pingback: Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor – review & giveaway! | 746 Books

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