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The Rag and Bone Shop
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The Rag and Bone Shop

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  55 ratings  ·  9 reviews
At the height of his career, Charles Dickens's every move, appearance, and public utterance was pored over in the pubs and the press. His private life held, however, one enormous secret: his thirteen-year affair with Ellen Ternan, a childlike actress from a family of traveling players. Told in the alternating voices of Dickens's sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth; his friend, ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 26th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published 2001)
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I found this book about the secret life of Charles Dickens to be quite entertaining. It is based on the premise that Dickens had a young mistress named Ellen Ternan who was kept quite secret from British society and was only known to a few close associates of Dickens. The book is told from 3 separate points-of-view: that of Wilkie Collins, the mystery novelist and friend of Dickens; Ellen Ternan, herself; and Georgina Hogarth, the sister of Dickens estranged wife. The Collins narrative was to me ...more
Ok...sexism alert! This was one of those books where you start reading it and are captivated by how well the writer captures the emotions and inner thoughts of being a woman. You are convinced that you and the woman who wrote this books would be best buds, have so much fun hanging out together...until you realize (disappointedly) that it was written by a man! The language is beautiful. The phrasing is lovely. The dialogue is too. Chapters flip back and forth in the voices of three characters: El ...more
Charles Dickens, a very public man, perhaps one of the first "super stars", had a very private secret. Her name was Ellen Ternan and she was his mistress for some 13 years, right up to his death. At the height of his romance with Ellen, Charles wrote "A Tale of Two Cities", one of the greatest love stories all time.

Charles considered himself to be Mr. England, representing the Kingdom to the world. He was a puritan at heart and struggled with his desire to be loved and wanted. He became almost
Kate Lawrence
It's fun to try to figure out what's really happening when we hear the same events described by different people close to a public figure, in this case Charles Dickens. Chapters in this novel are imagined as written alternately by Dickens' friend Wilkie Collins (a popular author in his own right), Dickens' sister-in-law, and his mistress. We never hear directly from Dickens himself. Rackham's writing is wonderful--I'm surprised this novel didn't get more attention when first published--and the c ...more
Rackham has an exquisitie yet simple writing style. His multiple third person account of Dickens' life is quite intriguing. There comes a time in the book where Dickens' death happens all too quickly, seeming like Rackham had to end the book, or else. But overall, a really good read, especially for those well versed in Dickens' life. Fabulous final pages.
An interesting concept: a novel about Charles Dicken's secret sexual life written by an obvious literary expert from 3 points of view including Wilkie Collins, Dickens's mistress Ellen Ternan, and his devoted sister-in-law. While the portrayals of women are generally sympathetic, I was put off by the obvious pleasure in the descriptions of their degradation.
Mary Beth Doyle
This book is a look inside Charles Dicken's life as told by a few people important to his life. Dicken's is shown as a vulnerable, real man. We are able to understand the motivations of two woman (a young actress who is "kept" by Dickens, and Dicken's sister-in-law who is his children's governess). The Victorian era is not glamorized.
Dickens affair with Ellen Tiernan is highlighted here and also is subsequent shabby treatment of his wife. Enthralling read of a book that is fiction but reads like fact.
I am not going to finish this book. I just don't like it, and there are too many other tempting things in my TBR pile.
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