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Girl in a blue dress : a novel inspired by…
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Girl in a blue dress : a novel inspired by the life and marriage of… (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Gaynor Arnold

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3852727,939 (3.6)55
Member:klerulo
Title:Girl in a blue dress : a novel inspired by the life and marriage of Charles Dickens
Authors:Gaynor Arnold
Info:New York : Crown Publishers, c2008.
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold (2008)

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As I progressed with my reading the feeling that overtook me is a feeling I seldom am in contact with - so seldom it took awhile to recognize it: I was bored. That took me by surprise. How could a book about Charles Dickens be boring?

Girl in a blue dress is fictionalization of Charles Dickens life, the story mostly told as seen through his wife´s eyes. Where did I get bored? Did I ever believe in Gaynor´s melodrama? I did not. Too much 21th century context, and too little 19th century, it is so easy to get angry on behalf of the women´situation, in any era, even today most places in the world. But any man has the right to be judged by his peers; Dickens´ lived from 1812 to 1870, his peers where 19th century. I do not even think you can read Dickens´behavior towards his wife as his attitude towards womens´ rights - in the end of the day, he chose a woman as executor of his will. I believe I come closer to his dilemma by asking myself how long I would stay with a drug-abusing spouse, or whether I would remove my children from a drug abusing (how much laudanum did she take?) co-parent? And whether at the time I could not be present I would find it responsible to leave the care-taking to a sober capable aunt the children know?

How a minor author (Dickens will still be a name when Gaynor is all but forgotten) dears doing the moral laundering on behalf of a great writer is beyond me. But I gained one important thing from reading this book; what it made me realize, is that when melodrama turns in on itself, does not carry a greater issue than laundering your underwear in public, it does not stir neither the greater feelings, nor engage intellectually. An insight that puts Dickens´ books in perspective: Their most important trait is not the melodrama; Dickens chose the most difficult form of melodrama as carrier for serious social critic - and succeeded (when I grew up loving Dickens´ books, they were dismissed by literary critics as nothing more than reader friendly melodramas.) Dickens could read his fellow beings and paint their characters precisely in a few strokes, in words that would be read with joy, relished and remembered. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, but it is only in the 20th century that scholars and critics have recognized him as the literary genius he is. By contrast, Gaynor chooses the form of melodrama as carrier of a portrait of a great author - making his most striking feature abusiveness. Do I believe she has captured his portrait through this dull repetitive story that "girl in a blue dress" is? The only thing I believe in is the vantage point; the story as seen through the eyes of a woman we know next to nothing about. What we see is not Mrs. Dickens, it is an opportunistic Gaynor who is longlisted for the Booker prize - by a book that will be forgotten - because neither opportunistic borrowing of a great name, being politically correct in the 21th century, being bound to your own prejudices, or to what is "in" in any century, is enough for a book to survive their time. ( )
  Mikalina | Dec 2, 2016 |
I will be completely honest and admit I knew next to nothing about Charles Dickens' private life prior to this novel and now I find myself intrigued by the relationship between him and his wife. This novel re-imagines Dickens and his wife as Alfred and Dorothea Gibson and focuses on Dorothea's remembrances of her husband as she recounts their story in the wake of his death. Well-written and very human, I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys Dickens' novels or historical fiction. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Jun 13, 2016 |
fictional novel based on the life and marraige of Charles Dickens. Interesting read, but did drag on in some places and was left a bit unsatisfied with the ending. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
fictional novel based on the life and marraige of Charles Dickens. Interesting read, but did drag on in some places and was left a bit unsatisfied with the ending. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
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For my mother
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My husband's funeral is today.
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Book description
Alfred Gibson's funeral has taken place at Westminster Abbey, and his wife of twenty years, Dorothea, has not been invited. Dorothea is comforted by her feisty daughter Kitty, until an invitation for a private audience with Queen Victoria arrives, and she begins to examine her own life more closely. She uncovers the deviousness and hypnotic power of her celebrity author husband. But now Dodo will need to face her grown-up children, and worse, her redoubtable younger sister, Sissy and the charming actress, Miss Ricketts. In Alfred Gibson the fierce energy and brilliance of the most famous of the Victorian novelists is recreated, in a heart-warming story of first love - of a cocky young writer smitten by a pretty girl in a blue dress. Dorothea, the narrator and heroine of Gaynor Arnold's ambitious first novel, proves herself to be more than the doting Victorian wife of a restless genius who resembles Dickens, despite being called Alfred Gibson. Hers is the story of a kind and good woman who is not content to be remembered as a mere footnote when the official Life of the great man comes to be written. ~Paul Bailey
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"Alfred Gibson's funeral has taken place at Westminster Abbey, and his wife of twenty years, Dorothea, has not been invited. Dorothea is comforted by her feisty daughter Kitty, until an invitation for a private audience with Queen Victoria arrives, and she begins to examine her own life more closely." "She uncovers the deviousness and hypnotic power of her celebrity author husband. But now Dodo will need to face her grown-up children, and worse, her redoubtable younger sister, Sissy, and the charming actress, Miss Ricketts." "In Alfred Gibson the fierce energy and brilliance of the most famous of the Victorian Novelists is recreated, in a heart-warming story of first love - of a cocky young writer smitten by a pretty girl in a blue dress."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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