Emily Dickinson did have a love interest. His name was Carlo.
He was a dog, a Newfoundland, a great, slobbering, shaggy mess of a creature, which undercuts any notions of primness modern readers may harbor of Miss Dickinson. As Figley draws forth their gathering affection, she reveals important aspects of Dickinson’s relationship to the world, her deep-running shyness that led to a reclusive life. But her time with Carlo, some 16 years, was full of beauty and meaning, as expertly coaxed from her poems and letters. The path to her brother’s house, “just wide enough for two who love”; “I started early, took my dog, / And visited the sea.” They were a couple, surely—they shared sweeps of time, they endured separations, they went calling—and when the end came for Carlo, Dickinson did not dodge the sting: “ ’Twas my one glory— / Let it be / Remembered / I was owned of thee.” And if a moodiness still pervades the proceedings, something blue, the tone is lifted by Stock’s watercolors, which are as drenched in color as a sun room painted by Childe Hassam.
A pleasing little window into Dickinson’s life and an invitation to learn more about the fresh-breathed poet from Amherst. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)