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Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for Readers' Favorite
William Wordsworth wrote five poems inspired by a young woman named Lucy. Scholars have long speculated as to the identity of Lucy. Was she real? Could she have been a fantasy of William’s imagination? "William and Lucy" is a fictional work speculating on the identity and relationship of Lucy and William. Author Michael Brown used the clues provided in Wordsworth's poetry to piece together the fragments of the mystery, such as the location of Somerset. Michael Brown’s romantic tale is set in 1798 during a time of war between England and France. When we meet William Wordsworth it is a time of turmoil in his life. He seems to lack the inspiration to write, the crown suspects he is a spy for France, his landlord is evicting him, and his inheritance is tied up in the courts.
William is twenty-eight when he meets seventeen year old Lucy Sims. The two young people are drawn to each other. In Brown’s version of the myth, Lucy is a governess, plagued by her employer's unwanted advances, who eventually forces himself on young Lucy. The mistress of the home is angered and accuses Lucy of theft. The drama continues as William faces poverty, treason, and the threat of death by hanging.
Michael Brown is a brilliant author, whose style reminds me of Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austin. He allows the plot to form at its own pace and never attempts to lighten the desperation of the era. Brown brings depth and dimension to both the characters and the plot. There is an atmosphere of romance as well as a sense of desperation in the relationship of the characters. Wordsworth’s art was devalued in his lifetime; however, I suspect that will not happen with the works of author Michael Brown.