In this week's Holiday Books section of The New York Times Book Review, Dominque Browning had this to say about Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life:
'Hope’ is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul,” wrote Emily Dickinson, of the creatures that caught her gimlet eye. A revised edition of Marta McDowell’s EMILY DICKINSON’S GARDENING LIFE: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Iconic Poet (Timber, 267 pp., $24.95) offers an excuse (if one is necessary) to linger yet again over the observations of a poet who, as Dickinson herself proclaimed, “was always attached to Mud.” This is biography told through house and garden.
And how appropriate to be included with books about clouds, birds, fragrance and farming, as well as books on gardens in Morocco and England.
Browning went on to say:
Dickinson’s family shared her love of plants, welcoming friends like Frances Hodgson Burnett and Frederick Law Olmsted to their table at bloom time. As in one of her previous books, “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life,” McDowell highlights the plants that sent Dickinson into ecstatic reveries: carnations that “tip their spice,” “the ancient shrub” that is the lilac, the face “rounder than the Moon” of red clover.
If you visit the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts right now, you'll see it ready for the poet's birthday, December 10, and the celebration of her 189th year. Her garden is snow-covered at the moment, but you can accompany her through the seasons in my book.
Wandering through this book, we can smell the hyacinth that bloomed on the poet’s windowsill in winter, hear the thrum of hummingbird wings, smell the cooking odors from the kitchen and imagine Dickinson pruning, staking, digging — and listening and watching. Here is poetry grounded in earth and birds and blossoms, balm for these oppressive times of “a certain Slant of light.”
You can read Dominque Browning's complete review on The New York Times website by clicking the link below.