Girl in a Blue Dress

Girl in a Blue Dress Review

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 centuries.

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.” 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 more 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.

Title:Girl in a Blue Dress
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Tea Jovanovi?

    Iako obožavam Čarlsa Dikensa ova knjiga me je ostavila potpuno ravnodušnom... I ne vidim razlog što je uopšte ušla u širi izbor za Bukera......

  • Doreen

    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 mo...

  • Sterlingcindysu

    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...

  • Nancy Oakes

    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 ...

  • Kristin

    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 groun...

  • pinkgal

    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 satisfyin...

  • Anne

    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 t...

  • Bettie

    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!...

  • Dru

    I found this book at a thrift shop so I picked it up. I like Victorian and Victorian-esque literature so I thought I'd give it a try. It was a delightful surprise that in the end, had me thinking a lo...

  • Adriane Devries

    Gaynor Arnold’s first published novel, a fictional memoir told from the point of view of Charles Dickens’ estranged wife, proves that there are still great, new authors with much to contribute to ...