Monday, October 6, 2014

A fictionalized peek into the story of Charles Dickens' wife

I'm fascinated with Charles Dickens.  I have been for quite some time.  And while I enjoy his writing, and feel he was one of the most amazing storytellers of all time, I've always thought his treatment of his wife Catherine was shabby at best.

Girl in a Blue Dress, subtitled "A Novel of the Life & Marriage of Charles Dickens," did nothing to change my opinion of Dickens.  But it was a truly interesting read.

This is from;

At the end of her life, Catherine, the cast-off wife of Charles Dickens, gave the letters she had received from her husband to their daughter Kate, asking her to donate them to the British Museum, “so the world may know that he loved me once.” 

Author Gaynor Arnold changes some things.  For instance, Charles and Catherine Dickens become Alfred and Dorothea Gibson, and she changes the names and birth orders of their children.

  She also adds some key scenes which probably didn't happen in real allowing Dorothea to confront the young actress who destroyed her marriage.

Other than that, as far as I can ascertain, Arnold stuck fairly close to the facts.  Dorothea/Catherine is a sympathetic figure because after giving her husband the best years of her life, she is literally cast aside.  Oh, Charles Dickens made sure the mother of his children was well-cared for, but that's about it.

One can feel the heartache of this woman who apparently never stopped loving the man who threw her over.

Arnold paints Charles Dickens just as he seemed to be: larger than life, brilliant, selfish, a superstar in his time and a lasting literary legend.

If, like myself, you have an interest in Charles Dickens and would like to gain more insight into his marriage and how it ended up, this book is a must-read.


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