Written in a combination of narrative and personal correspondence, Emily Hudson is the tale of a beautiful young woman filled with spirit and creativity, who finds herself the dependent of a strict and oppressive uncle after being tragically orphaned. Brought to live at the family’s beach house in Newport she is permitted limited freedom, yet dreams of traveling abroad and exploring her talent for art. Encouraged by her cousin William, she finds a certain amount of contentment and happiness on the Newport shore, especially after meeting the handsome Captain Lindsay.
Emily’s happiness in Newport is shattered when the threat of consumption presents itself and she feels the responsibility to decline Captain Lindsay’s heartfelt petition of marriage. After caring for and witnessing the death of her mother, father, sisters and brother to the terrible disease, Emily can not bare the thought of putting another through such a bitter and tragic experience or risk their health in so doing.
William, ever her champion, brings her to London to study art and improve her health. Yet William’s controlling and demanding persona begins to become too much for Emily and she finds that they are often at odds. Increasingly ill with the effects of consumption and tired of her cousin’s constant tantrums, Emily runs away to Rome where she can surround herself with art and make a life of her own. Fearing her end is near, Emily contemplates her life, her missed opportunity with the man she loved, and an uncertain future.
Emily is a wonderfully well-drawn character and the story is engaging. Over half of Emily’s story is told via the letters that she writes to her loved ones and this is particularly well done. This is a literary historical romance that is passionate and elegantly written.
Melissa Jones is the sister of Sadie Jones, the author of The Outcast and Small Wars and Emily’s story is inspired by the relationship between the novelist Henry James and his cousin Minny.
A sweeping tale of dreams, lies, love and manipulation, Emily Hudson is a highly captivating novel. Jones’ deeply introspective writing style endears you to Emily in a profound way, carrying you through the story as if with a friend.