The Great Lover by Jill Dawson


Jill Dawson 

Back cover:  In 1909, sixteen year old Nell Golightly is a housemaid at a popular tea garden near Cambridge University, and Rupert Brooke, a new tenant, is already causing a stir with his boyish good looks and habit of swimming naked in nearby Byron's Pool.  Despite her good sense, Nell seems to be falling under the radical young poet's spell, even thought Brooke apparently adores no one but himself.  Could he ever love a housemaid?  Is he, in fact, capable of love at all?  

Jill Dawson's The Great Lover imaginatively and playfully gives new voice to Rupert Brooke through the poet's own words and through the remembrances of the spirited Nell.  An extraordinary novel, it powerfully conveys the allure of charisma as it captures the mysterious and often perverse workings of a human heart."

I really stepped out of my reading box with "The Great Lover."  Believe it or not, I had never heard of the poet, Rupert Brooke, so really didn't know what to expect.   The book is historical fiction and was eye opening and educational to say the least.  It's one of those books that had me running to look things up on the internet, to find out more.  Rubert loved men and women equally, jumped from relationship to relationship, indiscriminately.  He was especially enamored with Noel Olivier who refused to marry him.

"Noel does not trust me. She thinks I am--what was her word?  She thinks I am in love with being in love rather than her.  Am I capable of loving one person for more than one day?  Is everyone capable of this, or is it denied to some of us?"  pg 167-168)

He was also fascinated with Nell Golightly, the housemaid of the home where he rented a room.  Her story parallels his as well as intersects his time and time again. Even as Rupert hops from love to love, he is enamored with Nell, but because of class differences both know they could never be together.  He eventually suffers a mental breakdown and travels to Tahiti, where he again falls in love.  He seems to be continually searching for "the one"  and can't settle down.  

"I have already stayed almost two months longer than I intended.  I know how the peacock blue lustre of that pearl will burn a hole in my pocket, but tomorrow I intent to read my letters from England and see if they can't exert a pull. Perhaps Cathleen,- ah, Cathleen Nesbitt; eminently suitable, eminently charming, beautiful and accomplished, can Cathleen call me back?  Should I marry Cathleen, If I marry at all? (pg 285)

The Great Lover is an interesting read, the characters humorous at times, poignant and full of angst at other moments.  Jill Dawson writing is excellent and draws you in to the story, giving a fly on the wall look into Rupert Brooke's life.

Thank you to TLC Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book and Jill Dawson for writing an intriguing story.   It's not very often I place a rating on the books I read, but this one is rated r and includes mature themes.

Check out the other stops that came before me and those after  on the tour to see what they thought of The Greatest Lover:

Wednesday, June 2nd:  Books Like Breathing
Thursday, June 3rd:  Eclectic/Eccentric
Monday, June 7th: Peetswea
Tuesday, June 8th:  As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Wednesday, June 9th:  Bookstack
Tuesday, June 15th:  Literate Housewife
Thursday, June 17th:  Nonsuch Book
Wednesday, June 23rd:  Thoughts From an Evil Overlord
Thursday, June 24th:  The Tome Traveler


  1. This sounds rather lovely - thanks for sharing


  2. It does sound like he was in love with being in love. I would read this one!

  3. I had never heard of this poet before this book went on tour either. I love that it had you searching out details online!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. :)

  4. I'll keep this in the back of my brain -- it sounds like something I'd like.

  5. Hannah: thanks for dropping by. It was definitely different.

    Staci - he was an interesting character.

    Heather- thanks for asking me.

    Beth - probably!


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