Title: The Whole Wide Beauty: A Novel
Author: Emily Woof
Release Date: May 17, 2010
Publisher:W.W. Norton & Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
David Freeman is the head of the Broughton Foundation, an organization dedicated to modern day poetry. Unfortunately, the foundation is short on money and overextended on debt, so David decides to try to woo Sir Richard Seaton into a large donation through a lavish dinner at St. Mark’s that he can’t afford.
Meanwhile, Katherine, David’s daughter, is a former dancer, living with her husband and son, Kieron. She reluctantly attends her father’s St. Mark’s dinner where she meets the poet Stephen Jericho. Their instant mutual attraction sets of a series of events neither of them could have predicted.
The Whole Wide Beauty is a moving work of literary fiction. Emily Woof’s writing style is confident, yet delicate. She has a way with words that draws the reader in. Her prose is fluid and she tells this story very beautifully. She writes with the surety of a seasoned professional; it’s hard to believe that this is her debut novel.
This book is emotionally intense. Though all of the characters exude calm and the British “stiff upper lip,” inside they are tumultuous and confused. Woof conveys the sheer amount and depth of emotion very well. David is desperate to secure funding for the Broughton Foundation – it’s his passion, his life’s work, and it could all just disappear. On top of that, he has a secret he’s been keeping, one that has been gnawing at him for years. Katherine is unsatisfied with her life. When she meets Stephen, it’s as if a part of her that had been shut off for so long instantly switches back on. She feels such fire for him, yet she knows she is risking everything. Katherine seems so numb and detached over the course of the novel, so it’s really interesting to see that juxtaposed against her feelings for Stephen.
This is a passionate, fervent novel that keeps you reading straight from the first page to the last. It’s difficult to describe because so much of the novel’s power lies in experiencing it firsthand. If you’re a fan of beautifully written literary fiction or are interested in relationships, this book is definitely one to pick up.