The Whole Wide Beauty, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Katherine Freeman has drifted far from her life as a dancer.

Married with a small child and working as a part-time teacher, she has become distant from her life, navigating the world in a dream, drawn one way and another by those who depend on her.

Her father David is the charismatic director of the Broughton Poetry Foundation in Northumberland.

His intense passion for his work masks a complicated inner world, and his already fraught relationship with Katherine is further threatened when she falls in love with his young colleague, Stephen Jericho.

Stephen and Katherine risk everything as they are explore the extremes of their passionate connection.

In this powerful debut, Emily Woof uses her unique descriptive talent and spare prose to examine the human need to engage.

This is an exceptional novel about life's choices: love and family, art and commerce, ideals and compromise.


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Emily Woof's first novel depends on her characters to make the story interesting to the reader as there is not much of a plot to follow. Katherine, a former dancer and now a wife and mother, is the daughter of David and May Freeman, neither of whom have paid much attention to their children. David's world is wrapped up in sustaining and enlarging the Broughton Foundation, a place for struggling artists, especially poets, to be supported and encouraged as they struggle to complete their first works. May is determined to separate herself from her roles as a wife and a mother so she can continue to believe she lives the life of an "independent" woman. David is enamoured with art and artists, and his life is consumed with fund raising, and with his belief in the importance art should assume in each person's life. Unfortunately this does not extend to his interest in his daughter as a dancer, and she spends much of the book in introspection and in reacting against this inability of her father to value her life. She ends up in an affair with one of her father's artists and comes close to ruining her own marriage as well as her lover's marriage. Finally she comes to terms with her worth to herself and her family as her father is dying.The book is engaging in its portrayal of the art world and the emotional turmoil to a child when their father or mother cannot make themselves emotionally available, but all in all the characters seem so self absorbed as to make them unsympathetic and in the end one did not care that much about their fates.

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