BOOK REVIEW: How Do I Love Thee?

Posted on August 8, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

How Do I Love Thee by Nancy Moser gives an insightful look into how Mrs. Browning most likely lived and how she fell in love with and married Robert Browning. This book provides an enjoyable education through entertainment. All I knew before I read this book, was that Elizabeth Barrett was a poet. I could not even tell you the title of any of her poems. It was an eye-opener to realize she was an invalid during some of her most vital years. I also could not have been more shocked to know she was a virtual prisoner in her own home. It did seem to me at times that she suffered from agoraphobia. However, there is no denying the fact that Edward Barrett was a tyrannical and controlling man when it came to his family.

The real meat of the story comes from the meeting and courtship of Elizabeth Barrett. No one could seem a less likely candidate to be courted and married. She was nearly 40, bedridden, and living in constant fear of visitors to her attic room. I must confess that from the very beginning I was angry that she just did not get up and do whatever she wanted to do. Yet, it is important to realize that given her situation she was doing the best she could. She did have chest ailments that originally caused her illness. Despite all this, Robert Browning ends up reading some of her work and is drawn first because of Elizabeth’s mind. He convinces her a meeting should be arranged. The interaction between Elizabeth and Robert chugs the story along.

I highly recommend this book as an involving study of both the Brownings. Through their love letters and memorabilia a fairly accurate picture becomes painted of this talented and unusual couple. It is also enjoyable to read Nancy Moser’s explanation of what is truthful in this story, and most of what is read is based on fact. The Sonnets From The Portuguese are included in the back of the book, which I thought was a nice touch.

This book was highly readable, enjoyable, informative and will be a keeper on my shelf. It is not a stuffy read. It gets my big thumbs up.


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