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An index of first lines rounds out this dramatic and captivating tale.

Written by sculptor, poet, and businesswoman Natalie Vanderbilt, The Most Secret Window, Poetry As A Weapon is a free-verse, book-length epic poem following the passionate, at times joyful, at times tragic bond between two lovers. From hidden dreams to dark desires to the intrusion of a serial killer, The Most Secret Window follows the lovers amid a landscape that almost appears surreal at times, and at others intrudes with unyielding, ruthless reality. An index of first lines rounds out this dramatic and captivating tale. "Why do I want you? / Why do I suffer until my lips press yours? / Why is your softness a salve against pain / Against turmoil, against the physical pull of earth?"          —Margaret Lane, Midwest Book Review


The Most Secret Window by Natalie Vanderbilt is most certainly a novel, but it is unlike any you have read because it is told in some of the most luxurious poetic language I have read in years. Indeed, its subtitle is "Poetry as a Weapon." It is a passionate story of lovers. The year is 1910 and the locations are San Francisco and Maine. It is told as free verse or sonnets as a narrative of a wealthy shipping magnate in the midst of a battle with a corporate rival who lives both in the reality of his business, his friends, and the woman in his life, but who finds solace in an imaginary lover. All this may seem like so much romantic nonsense, but the great talent of the author is that she uses the story as a platform for some of the most evocative, powerful language put to use as literature. It is simply intoxicating.

—Alan Caruba, Charter Member of the National Book Critics Circle,


When you pick up The Most Secret Window you must be prepared for some of the most beautiful as well as brutal words you have ever seen in print. This poetry truly is a weapon. These words will pierce your soul, your bloody beating heart, and be forever imprinted on your mind....



Evocative Fantasy of Phantom Love

"There is a certain kind of love
That can seize without surrender.
A love of such violence, so beyond control,
That one cannot withdraw, once stricken."
~ pg. 12

Many novelists and poets create from a mingling of two worlds. In fact, to be a writer seems to require the merging of creativity and observations of stark reality. Natalie Vanderbilt takes this concept a step further in "The Most Secret Window." Here, two characters intertwine where few meet—in the mind.

An intellectual game or fate drawing two souls to a romantic destiny? Natalie Vanderbilt paints in snapshot poems with startling beauty, as a fantasy world jolts into reality and lives on the page. One minute we are enmeshed in a dramatic story on the sea and the next we have transcended reality and opened a door into a world of dreams. In this world of imaginings, Grayson and Lara meet.

"I have tasted pure desire,
Drunk it deep past any prayer,
Where its hunger consumes like fire
And its pleasure drives me to despair."
~ pg. 216

As a lover of poetry, I read this book with an added sense of awe and fascination. I love how the story weaves its way through words and births itself in a series of poems. This book should interest you if you love poetry, romantic novels or fantasy. Obsession, humor, lust, impossibility, adventure, longing and fantasy pleasures all mingle together to create a unique magic.

The story seduces you and leaves you wanting more. This contrast between an imagined heaven and reality's death is almost too much for any true romantic to bear. And yet, in this longing there is undeniable pleasure. If there are any weapons here (poetry as a weapon), it is longing that twists slowly in your heart.

~Rebecca Johnson, Top 5 Amazon Reviewer,  The Rebecca Review


Epic Poetry is almost dead, and Natalie Vanderbilt is planning its resurrection. This is the book for people who think they don't like poetry. This is the book for lovers of mysteries, romances, historical fiction, even ghost stories. This is a fully-realized novel in poetry form. Absolutely amazing.

Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus is You Bookstore


The Most Secret Window
By Natalie Vanderbilt.
Random River Press tradeback, 234 pages. 2007.
1910. San Francisco.

“In a daze that passed with no memory,
Grayson found himself in his room, alone,
The drive through the city, hollow and shimmery;
While sleep hung and preyed on his human bone.
His bedroom gaped with large carnivorous jaws
Open, waiting in the thick lonely air
As if warning against dropping his body’s guard,
Though the featherbed beckoned with a lulling stare.
Sometimes he was too lonesome to set himself free,
To escape in the revel of a privileged life.
That was when Lara, through the ethereal sea,
Enveloped him and ruined his normal life.
She was an obsession, hard to do without,
Although a dream, she could touch him in his mind.

‘I love you, Lara,
I cannot forget you,’
Grayson let down the walls
That he had forced against her.
He steadied himself against what came rushing back;
At least, something did come back,
Love breaking through the crusty depths of fear
And willing itself alive and flaming.
What passion! Rebelling and wild,
Battling and rearing in the blazing fire,
Until an essence fell into droplets
Of a raging, gentle compassion
Fierce with energy. That settled into a form,
And it was Lara, clinging to him.”


Told in poetry prose is the tale of two people, thousands of miles apart, who meet in their dreams and fall in love – never knowing if the other really exists. Grayson has a lifelong enemy called Selby who has ruthlessly killed his father and creates havoc to his shipping empire time and again. Selby, it is revealed, is more than a little mad and sadistic as well. Grayson’s good friend Luke worries about his friend’s obsession with the “imaginary” Lara, even while Grayson has a mistress. At one time Grayson sets aside attending to business and goes to Maine in search of her, but Luke interferes, thinking that Grayson is losing his mind. Little do they know how close he was at this time to seeing her and confirming that Lara was more than a dream.

And Lara is in a similar situation as Grayson and yearns for him as well. Grayson decides to forget her and attend to his business and mistress and Lara feels his desertion. ...and so Grayson later cannot reach her again. He is left with his uncertainty and a very dangerous enemy.


At first I thought I was the wrong person to review this since I don’t appreciate poetry and never read it. Twice I tried to read this only to put down the book in great frustration. But I tried one last time and made a determined effort. Strange, but once I finally found the rhythm I then read it to the end all in one sitting, unable to put it down. Now I think I am the best one to review it for I can urge others who are not fans of poetry to give this a chance – keep an open mind – and enjoy the strange and beautiful story of a love that could not die. (And wasn’t that Selby a horrid person?)

—Donna Doyle,


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