The year is 1845. Elizabeth Barrett is a published poet — and a virtual prisoner in her own home. Blind family loyalty ties her to a tyrannical father who forbids any of his children to marry. She has resigned herself to simply existing. That is, until the letter arrives… “I love your verses with all my heart,” writes Robert Browning, an admiring fellow poet. And as friendly correspondence gives way to something more, Elizabeth discovers that Robert’s love is not for her words alone. Could it be that God might grant her more than mere existence? And can she risk defying her father in pursuit of true happiness? Nancy Moser has crafted a romantic, emotion-charged novel based on the true story of beloved poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Let me first say that I love Nancy Moser’s work, anyone who has been reading this blog knows this. I have reviewed three works by her on my blog, and all have gotten top marks. That said I wish I could give How Do I Love Thee? those top marks. But I cannot. Perhaps it is because I myself do not know much about the poet Elizabeth Browning, or perhaps it is the subject matter of a woman who spends most of her time inside due to illness at first (that is me right now) and than by fear of the outside world. I am fully able to admit that could be the reason I did not enjoy this one that much.
I am not saying the book is bad, it is not. But it was not my favorite. The pacing seemed a bit sluggish to me and at points I did struggle with it. However, other parts of it held me in rapt attention. I certainly found myself wanting to clock Ba’s tyrannical father over the head with a book, or his bible. And I did draw myself up to Ba and try to deal with many of her let downs and losses, like her dear brother Bro.
The story is an emotional one and it goes through many up’s and downs. It is accurate to the time that it is in, and I found myself learning a lot which I can always appreciate in a book. But the poet’s life was not a thrilling one like Lady Washington and it was not like that of Jane Austen from Just Jane. And perhaps these expectations as a reader are my own faults. When all is said and done I do feel that the book is worth reading. If you can handle the slightly slow pacing and look at the true deep emotions of the book you will enjoy it.