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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s featured book is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Amherst, by William Nicholson.





Beginning:  The screen is black.  The sound of a pen nib scratching on paper, the sound amplified, echoing in the dark room.  A soft light flickers, revealing ink tracking over paper.  Follow the forming letters to read:

I’ve none to tell me to be thee

The area of light expands.  A small maplewood desk, on which the paper lies.  A hand holding the pen.


56:  He formed his face into a smile and entered the room, prepared to be lighthearted.  At once the laughter died.  All eyes were on him, apprehensive.

“Don’t let me spoil the fun,” he said.


Blurb:  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.


What do you think?  Do the excerpts draw you in?  Pique your interest?



  1. Patty

    I read this and enjoyed it very much…I don’t remember it being written as a screenplay…the main character left her job to write a screenplay…but I could be totally wrong!


  2. Glad to hear the whole book is not written in screenplay style; that would get old quickly. I didn’t know about this affair, interesting. I may need to make a drive down to Amherst when/if the snow ever clears (I’m about 90 minutes north of Amherst). I hope you like the book.


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