... bold and terrifically appealing ... This love of place and ear for her characters’ turns of phrase makes for a rich reading experience. Her smartest choice: handing the narrative reins to Margaret herself, whose Tipperary-tinged voice guides—and warms—the story. It’s a perspective rife with honesty, humor, and sharp observations about class, immigration, and relationships ... The novel blends...facts and real-life characters with plausible but fictionalized subplots and settings pulled from the headlines of the era. By the end of this gratifying, intelligent tale, a variety of readers—from Emily Dickinson neophytes to students of her work—will leave with a more nuanced understanding of 'the myth of Amherst,' as well as a deep appreciation for the 'wild and warm and mighty' woman who stood by her side in life, enabling a legacy.
About as far away from old-fashioned and stodgy as you can get ... The plot is mostly made up, but it rings true as Brown tells the story through the eyes and voice of the maid, Margaret Maher ... In Brown's deft hands, Emily comes to life as a sensuous, mischievous, entitled young woman, coddled by family and perhaps afflicted by agoraphobia but nonetheless exhibiting a robust love of life ... The voice, the setting, the details of the house all feel authentic, which means a reader can just sink into the story, observing the eccentric Dickinson family through the eyes of an outsider right there in the kitchen.