It’s 1886 and Emily Dickinson has died. In her bedroom, the mattress misses the weight of a body, the ink languishes in the inkwell, the pen dreams of the poems it hasn’t written. And hundreds of scraps of paper wait eagerly to take flight. Emily has left our world, but a poetess is about to be born.

Rescued by her sister Lavinia, poems scribbled on flaps of envelopes and packages of sugar will forever change the lives of those closest to Emily: her distant and secretive brother Austin, her sister-in-law Susan, who “lives year-round in Norway,” their beguiling and ambitious neighbor Mabel (who’s also Austin’s mistress), and young Millicent, a dreamy, whimsical girl who’ll become Emily’s spiritual (and eventually literary) heir.

With finesse and compassion, Les ombres blanches chronicles a body of work that was very nearly lost, the loves, sorrows, and devotion of those who brought it to light, and the passing of a reclusive woman known as “the Myth.” After the magnificent Paper Houses, which delved into Dickinson’s life and works, Dominique Fortier delivers a tender, profound, and poetic tale about grief, legacy, and the mesmerizing power of words.

  • 248 pages