Girl in a Blue Dress

Girl in a Blue Dress A Sweeping Tale Of Love And Loss, Girl In A Blue Dress Is Both An Intimate Peek At The Woman Who Was Behind One Of Literature S Most Esteemed Men And A Fascinating Rumination On Marriage That Will Resonate Across CenturiesAt 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 The Incredible Vulnerability And Heartache Evident Beneath The Surface Of This Remark Inspired Gaynor Arnold To Write Girl In A Blue Dress, A Dazzling Debut Novel Inspired By The Life Of This Tragic Yet Devoted Woman Arnold Brings The Spirit Of Catherine Dickens To Life In The Form Of Dorothea Dodo Gibson A Woman Who Is Doomed To Live In The Shadow Of Her Husband, Alfred, The Most Celebrated Author In The Victorian World The Story Opens On The Day Of Alfred S Funeral Dorothea Is Not Among The Throngs In Attendance When The One And Only Is Laid To Rest Her Mourning Must Take Place Within The Walls Of Her Modest Apartment, A Parting Gift From Alfred As He Ushered Her Out Of Their Shared Home And His Life Than A Decade Earlier Even Her Own Children, Save Her Outspoken Daughter Kitty, Are Not There To Offer Her Comfort They Were Poisoned Against Her When Alfred Publicly Declared Her An Unfit Wife And Mother Though She Refuses To Don The Proper Mourning Attire, Dodo Cannot Bring Herself To Demonize Her Late Husband, Something That Comes All Too Easily To Kitty Instead, She Reflects On Their Time Together Their Clandestine And Passionate Courtship, When He Was A Force Of Nature And She A Willing Follower And The Salad Days Of Their Marriage, Before Too Many Children Sapped Her Vitality And His Interest She Uncovers The Frighteningly Hypnotic Power Of The Celebrity Author She Married Now Liberated From His Hold On Her, Dodo Finds The Courage To Face Her Adult Children, The Sister Who Betrayed Her, And The Charming Actress Who Claimed Her Husband S Love And Left Her Heart Aching A Sweeping Tale Of Love And Loss That Was Long Listed For Both The Man Booker Prize And The Orange Prize, Girl In A Blue Dress Is Both An Intimate Peek At The Woman Who Was Behind One Of Literature S Most Esteemed Men And A Fascinating Rumination On Marriage That Will Resonate Across Centuries

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  • Paperback
  • 442 pages
  • Girl in a Blue Dress
  • Gaynor Arnold
  • English
  • 21 January 2019
  • 9780955647611

10 thoughts on “Girl in a Blue Dress

  1. says:

    Iako obo avam arlsa Dikensa ova knjiga me je ostavila potpuno ravnodu nom I ne vidim razlog to je uop te u la u iri izbor za Bukera

  2. says:

    I was surprised by how complex this book is Much like Paula McLain s The Paris Wife, this novel takes the breakdown of a famous writer s marriage and transcends the tawdrier qualities to present a moving, realistic portrayal of personalities and emotions abruptly whipsawn by circumstances Gaynor Arnold doesn t pretend this is a completely factual account unlike Ms McLain, she didn t have a wealth of source material to work from but it s still a very realistic account of Victorian morality and thinking, providing us with at least a little insight into the life and times of some of the Victorian era s most famous denizens To begin with, we have the character of Arthur Gibson, around whom the story revolves Gibson, modeled very closely on Charles Dickens, is an egotist and tyrant A benevolent tyrant overall, but a man who must always be right, and who is ruthless in forcing his version of the truth, whereby he is the hero and savior, on everyone around him He demands the unquestioning love and allegiance of his circle and, being the strong willed sort, usually gets it Any transgressors are cut out of his life entirely Most of the Victorian women in this book, not having been raised to be strong willed, fall easily under his spell few escape Even his discarded and deeply wronged wife, Dorothea, continues to be loving and forgiving towards him throughout the narrative, a fact that I found maddening but not unbelievable It s hard to blame her, after all she d been raised to be ornamental and passive, and is quite happy to spend her days quietly, hardly ever venturing out of her rooms Ironically, her disinclination to activity is one of the reasons Gibson demands she leave, as she cannot be the helpmeet she once was and that he vilely claims she never was Dick It s difficult to be vivacious and collected when birthing 8 children in rapid succession heaven knows, I have days where it feels as if all I can do apart from rearing my only child is nap Gibson has a difficult time understanding why Dorothea cannot cater to his every whim once their children start being born, and it s pretty much all downhill from there Ms Arnold paints a portrait of a man so wrapped up in shoring up his sense of self that he refuses to believe he could possibly do wrong that she does this even handedly, displaying his talent and generosity as well as his flaws, is a testament to the wisdom she brings to her career as a novelist I also appreciated the candor she brought to Dorothea, who is patient and kind but also foolish and weak Dorothea is clearly a victim, but she never stoops, once she has been shunted aside, to act like it.One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel even though it was also the bit that felt most fantastical to me was the deep sense of sisterhood that ran throughout once Gibson was taken out of the equation It s a pity that a man, even one as tireless in his good works otherwise as Gibson, could so easily wreck all those bonds as he had in the name of selfishness, but it was nice to see the women picking up the pieces afterwards and mending their personal relationships I also quite agreed with Eddie when he huffed that he hadn t understood why Gibson couldn t just take a mistress discreetly, like other gentlemen Again, it s the monstrous ego that needs to assure himself of his own inherent goodness that won t allow Gibson to compromise himself morally, instead forcing any possible public opprobrium, and the resulting indignities and pain, on those attached to him I don t know if a man like Gibson could survive, ego intact, in this day and age I sincerely hope not, but humanity always has the capacity to surprise.

  3. says:

    3.5 rounded down A great debut novel So, okay, this is a story based on Dicken s marriage but all the characters are fiction So if you re wondering if there s countless references to Dicken s work, the answer is no Arnold makes up new titles and mentions some references to basic items, such as bah humbug or the orphan boy I did catch one Charley instead of Alfred being used in referring to the Dickens character As they say, fact is stranger than fiction and when I googled Dicken s relationship to his sisters in law, it was very odd I d read The Last Dickens not too long ago that covers Dicken s last trip to America and death, so this was a nice companion piece So you have The One and Only who used it to refer to himself married to a woman who bears 8 children, has post partum depression, is exhausted and also probably has chronitic fatigue syndrome Eyes will wander and that isn t anything newwhat is new is Dicken s treatment of his wife I must admit at parts this book did drag a bit for example, after Dicken s funeral, Dodo visits the Queen Arnold not only writes of that, but also when Dodo tells two other people of the visit and repeats everything over And, let s face it, reading over and over again about how someone is exhausted doesn t make for rapt reading Who Dickens wanted to be buried beside, not at the Poet s Corner in Westminister Abbey.

  4. says:

    As the story set squarely in the Victorian era opens, a woman is sitting at home, unable to go to her husband s funeral Thousands of other people went, but she is at home in a small apartment She can only hear the details from her daughter The woman in question is Dorothea, nicknamed Dodo the dead man is Alfred Gibson, known also as the One and Only, a famous British writer whose works were read even by the queen Dorothea did not go to the funeral because no one wanted her there it turns out after Dodo had borne several children, and suffered from being overtired, nervous, etc., and was basically no longer her younger self, her husband had publicly turned her out of her home, and had separated her from her children Oh yes, I forgotit seems that he had also taken on a mistress Now, if all of this sounds familiar, it s because Girl in a Blue Dress is based on the life of Catherine Dickens, the wife of Charles Dickens Here, Dorothea Gibson is the narrator, and through weaving the past into her present, we manage to get a feel for a much younger Alfred Gibson, a much younger Dodo, and the growing heaviness that weighed not only upon her as the wife of Alfred, and mother of several children, but as a woman constantly made insecure by the adoration of her husband by his Public Alfred is a rather complex individual, having to control everything and everyone, having to put on both public and private faces, and the whole book is Dorothea s look back at their life together in an effort to try to understand her situation But although Alfred is painted sometimes rather negatively, there are indeed passages where the author shows that Dodo isn t exactly the perfect example of the Victorian wife After all, the danger of reading a novel from the narrator s point of view is that you re not really going to get both sides, but the author does manage to overcome this problem The title Girl in a Blue Dress, refers to an episode in Dodo s life when she was actively seeking the attention of Alfred as a suitor, but as you continue to read, there s another meaning to it altogether And at that point, everything you need to know about Alfred and Dodo sort of clicks into place It is a fine book, one I am most happy to have read The characters are convincing with the exception of Dorothea at the end of the novel I thought this was problematic because it comes on quite suddenly, and I was scratching my head going huh at that point If you are into the Victorian period, then you re really going to love this one Arnold s writing is beyond good and she manages to capture the feel of a Victorian writer so at times you re so caught up in the story that you don t realize you re reading a modern author Highly recommended.

  5. says:

    This was our book club pick for January I was really excited to read this book It is based on the marriage of Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine Before beginning this book I had zero back ground knowledge of their marriageor lives for that matter Believe me the cover alone had me intrigued.Here is my advice Do Not Read this book if when you are feeling slightly depressed, fat, or if you are having marital difficulties It could put you over the edge It nearly put me over the edgeand I was not having marital difficulties I have been feeling rather glum due to the cold never ending gray winter and I was feeling fat due to the fact that I hadn t gone to the gym for a week Not a good combination for reading this book.It is another gentle read It is a quiet novel, not too much action Most of the time it is Dorothea reflecting on her marriage, the past, and how she has come to be in the position she is in, which is, cast off from her home and family.Here are the positives It is elegantly written It is interesting Charles Dickens as Alfred Gibson is an interesting albeit complicated man It is a compelling although not terribly exciting read.The negatives Alfred Gibson Charles Dickens is an S.O.B and I wanted to kick the said S.O.B.in the teeth the entire novel Also, Dorothea is an irritating enabler who spent her whole life making excuses for him DESPITE the fact that he treated her like crap, kicked her out, took up with a mistress, and kept her from her children Yes, Yes, I realize it was in Victorian times and women didn t have many options except to do as they were told by their husbands it pains me to even write that but I think I would ve been putting up of a fight especially where the children were concerned and not thinking so highly of old Alfred which she continues to do the entire novel and defends him adamantly Another negative, the ending Spoiler When old Alfred appears from the deaddid he have to answer to Dorothea for his abominable behavior NO He again tells her what to doand not very nicelyand she does it Give me a break You do not leave this book thinking very highly of Charles Dickens, the Great Original , the One and Only and that is disappointing Having said that it was interesting historical fiction.My Rating Goodleaning toward OK.

  6. says:

    Liked reading it, but not sure whether I could recommend it Yes, there seemed to be a conclusion and yes, Catherine s voice is strong in here But really WHAT WAS THE POINT We never got a satisfying conclusion the confrontation with her sister and with the mistress gave me no sense of closure I was so disappointed in the end because nothing seems to change But I guess that could be the point nothing is supposed to change This is a portrayal of Dicken s life and Catherine s previously unheard voice is the point in that way, this was a very successful story because you hear someone who you ve never heard speak before.

  7. says:

    I enjoyed this fictionalized account of the marriage of Charles and Catherine Dickens The author does an excellent job imagining the difference between the moralistic public writer, and the not so nice family man and husband He was egotistical, self centered, and willing to destroy his wife in order to satisfy his desire for a younger woman Worth reading.

  8. says:

    I really enjoyed every page of this first novel by Gaynor Arnold, this was long listed for the Man Booker Prize and it should have won Dorothea, widow of Alfred Gibson narrates the story Alfred was the most famous novelist of Victorian times and much loved by the British public The story opens on the day of his funeral to which Dorothea was not invited They have lived apart for many years and Dorothea has been banished to a small London house Whilst the rest of the country mourns Alfred s passing, she reflects on her life with him.Alfred is based on Charles Dickens and as far as I know, the author has stuck quite closely to his actual life and family story He was a lively, high spirited young man who spent his life writing for his adoring public Not only did he produce many books, but he and Dorothea had a very large family.Gaynor Arnold writes in her acknowldegments that she has fictionalised many scenes, added some characters and removed some of them Dorothea thinks back to when Alfred was a young man in love, a doting father and a friend to many After Alfred s death Dorothea encounters many problems with her family, with money and her layabout no good son in law, she also goes off to meet with another new widow Queen Victoria Eventually Dorothea plucks up the courage to meet with her estranged sister, the woman who stayed with Alfred until his death, and also the young actress who was Alfred s mistress or was she This is an exceptionally well written novel, I knew nothing about Charles Dickens private life and it probably works best that way It is full of detail about Victorian life, yet never stuffy or old fashioned A really easy read I loved it.

  9. says:

    Good book, but if you like Charles Dickens, do not read it because you will not like him as a person when you finish this book

  10. says:

    A good book but a little dull in places.

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