A Summer of Hummingbirds

A Summer of Hummingbirds : Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade

3.47 (282 ratings by Goodreads)
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The country's most noted writers, poets, and artists converge at a singular moment in American life, a great companion to fans of the film A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson. At the close of the Civil War, the lives of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade intersected in an intricate map of friendship, family, and romance that marked a milestone in the development of American art and literature. Using the image of a flitting hummingbird as a metaphor for the gossamer strands that connect these larger-than-life personalities, Christopher Benfey re-creates the summer of 1882, the summer when Mabel Louise Todd-the protege to the painter Heade-confesses her love for Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, and the players suddenly find themselves caught in the crossfire between the Calvinist world of decorum, restraint, and judgment and a new, unconventional world in which nature prevails and freedom is all.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 287 pages
  • 139.7 x 213.36 x 20.32mm | 249.47g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • The Penguin Press
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Frontispiece; Illustrations, black and white
  • 0143115081
  • 9780143115083
  • 942,866

Review quote

-A highly engaging and deftly written sequence of intertwined vignettes. . . . [A Summer of Hummingbirds] reads like a dream sequence, and should not be missed.-
-Michael Kammen, The Boston Globe
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About Christopher Benfey

Christopher Benfey is the Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and the author of the award-winning book A Summer of Hummingbirds. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
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Rating details

282 ratings
3.47 out of 5 stars
5 18% (52)
4 32% (89)
3 31% (87)
2 17% (49)
1 2% (5)
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