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Girl in a Blue Dress
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Girl in a Blue Dress

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  1,781 Ratings  ·  396 Reviews
Beloved writer Alfred Gibson's funeral is taking place at Westminster Abbey, and Dorothea, his wife of twenty years has not been invited. Gibson's will favours his many children and secret mistress over Dorothea - who was sent away from the family home when their youngest was still an infant. Dorothea has not left her apartment in years, but when she receives a surprise in ...more
Kindle Edition, 434 pages
Published July 1st 2009 by Broadway Books (first published August 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Tea Jovanović
Iako obožavam Čarlsa Dikensa ova knjiga me je ostavila potpuno ravnodušnom... I ne vidim razlog što je uopšte ušla u širi izbor za Bukera...
Jun 22, 2012 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 moralit ...more
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 marriage...or 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 edge...
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 u ...more
Apr 19, 2011 Bettie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Oct 20, 2008 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2015 Dru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 lot about love in our modern life. It made me ponder male/female relationships. The theme is love, but where do love and duty cross lines? It is a loosely based fictionalized account of the marriage of Charles and Catherine Dickens. The character's names are changed and some facts have been altered, b ...more
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 the world of letters. Combining Dickens-inspired language and convincing social mores and scenery, she furnishes the tabloid-worthy facts of the complex author’s life with characters who, like himself, are at times villains, comic relief, and occasionally unlikely heroes; and by featuring one of his fav ...more
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 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 ...more
Cheryl Gatling
This book begins in sadness and progresses into misery. The story opens as the great Victorian writer Alfred Gibson is being buried. His cast-off wife Dorothea (Dodo) is not invited to the funeral. It is a common enough sad old story that a man throws off the wife of his youth for a younger, prettier girl. But as Dodo relives the story of her marriage through flashbacks, her experience shows itself to be even darker. Alfred Gibson was like a force of nature. He was outgoing, brilliant, and funny ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Felice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Girl in the Blue Dress" is a fictionalized account of the life of Charles Dickens from the viewpoint of his wife Catherine. For years Catherine was viewed as sort of a 'Shakespeare's Wife'. A shadow of no real interest except for the number of children she gave birth to. A dull footnote in a brilliant man's career. In "Girl" Dickens is Alfred Gibson and Catherine is his wife Dorothea. In this Alfred is the It Boy of Victorian letters, magnetic, representing the values of home and hearth, po ...more
P.D.R. Lindsay
Mar 03, 2013 P.D.R. Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2008 , and rightly so, this literary historical novel is a gem. Based on the idea that being married to a great man and public figure is not what people imagine, or what the ‘Great Man’ says it is, Ms Arnold looks to Charles Dickens and his wife, Catherine Hogarth, for inspiration. She gives us the One and Only, the Great Original, Alfred Gibson, and his wife, Dorothea (Dodo). The story begins with the Great Man’s funeral and is told by his wife. No, this ...more
Jul 07, 2009 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I may not appreciate Charles Dicken's writing, but his life certainly makes for a good novel. This was a very quick read, not only because it falls comfortably into the easily digestible language of the YA genre, but because it was well-paced, with the backstory woven into the "current" plot in a very logical, forward-moving sort of way. I generally do not appreciate "old England" sorts of books, either, but this one got the language just right. What's more, the characters were fully believable ...more
Sep 04, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this! Based on the marriage of Charles Dickens through the eyes of his wife Catherine. The names of the characters were changed for the purpose of this book but the foreword confirms the family on which it is based and the level of research done.

Alfred (Charles) was an endearing, colourful character who fell in love with the timid Dorothy (Catherine) when she was still young and pure. Once she had given birth, he turned his affections to her younger virginal sisters though i
Sep 28, 2009 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like so many people, I am a big Charles Dickens fan. That being said, I definitely think the situation he perpetuated with his wife was in very poor taste. This book is based on Alfred and Dorothea "Dodo" Gibbons-but it is based on the Dickens' story. I know the author was trying to give Catherine Dickens a voice and a chance at redeeming her life after the death of her husband. I also understand that this all took place in a different place and time, but my frustration kept building as Dorothea ...more
Aug 09, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a "book of fiction" but although the names have been changed, it is the story of Charles Dicken's wife. I was completely absorbed in the story, so much so that I borrowed a biography of Dickens from the library to check certain facts and events. Dorothea (Catherine) was completely smitten when she first met Alfred (Charles) as a young girl. As he became more popular and widely read, their life together falls apart. She continues to adore him, but the burden of raising their 8 (10) childr ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Jami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a few chapters to get sucked into this book but took over my life until I finished it. I made myself stay up until 2:00 in the morning to finish it so I could focus on my family again the next day. Author does an amazing job of capturing the voices of Charles Dickens and his family so that you really feel like you know them. Fascinating and heartbreaking portrait of a marriage...but what I enjoyed most was the metamorphous of the main character- Dodie. I love how she has the ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Tayla rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This just eeked out the second star. It was just barely ok. The subtitle caught my eye at the library and, since I'm interested in Dickens, sounded appealing. I would have enjoyed a non-fiction account of his marriage more, though this mirrored it in many ways. The goofy titles the author made up for use in place of Dickens' actual novels were enough to make anyone blanch. The writing itself was uninspired and only the curiosity to find out what would become of the title character was enough to ...more
Jun 22, 2016 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gaynor Arnold is a new author to me and I really enjoyed this book. The story is about the wife of a victorian novelist and is loosely based on Charles Dickens and his wife, Dodo Gibson/Catherine Dickens and begins when he dies. The story moves backwards and forwards throughout their life together and ultimate separation. Alfred Gibson/Charles Dickens' treatment of her seems to be dreadful and what makes it more dreadful is the way in which he attempted to justify it. He must have been a charism ...more
Aug 04, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew very little about Charles Dickens' life and found this to be surprising. Many talented people seem to have troubled personal lives - this was interesting and portrays the difficulties within his marriage very well. It definitely makes me want to find out more and read all of his books in chronological order to compare to his real life troubles and how he was inspired.
Jun 18, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite its somewhat feminist sensibilities, this is a thoroughly old-fashioned book -- which is appropriate since it's inspired by Dickens. Throughout, the dialogue sounds utterly written, not spoken. Once I got over this artifice and accepted the book on its own terms (within in first 20 pages or so) I was hooked. I liked this one a lot and I'm sorry it's over.
Marion Vermazen
Jun 04, 2015 Marion Vermazen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since this is based on Charles Dicken's life some would say it is character assassination. The author does an outstanding job of character development. Although it is hard to like any of the characters this book does make you think. It is a great book club book.
Sian Jones
Aug 12, 2009 Sian Jones rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Read only if you want to study how beautifully done research can be wasted via serious narrative failures. And even then, as you study, prepare to rant aloud en route and even to holler, "Do you hate your readers, is that it, Gaynor Arnold? Criminey!"
Regina Keenan
Aug 06, 2012 Regina Keenan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed a lot, though I guess is sort of a gossip book. brings dickens to life very well, and raises the age old question of why do we love people at all costs, and what price genius.
Girl with her Head in a Book
Even as a child, Charles Dickens' private life bothered me. I had a Puffin Classics edition of one of his books which included a one paragraph biography at the front which described how he separated from his wife 'to pursue his friendship' with an actress. Even aged seven, I knew what that meant and for someone who was undergoing a Presbyterian up-bringing at the time, I couldn't believe that he had been allowed to behave so appallingly and still be famous. Over the years I discovered that I qui ...more
On the third Thursday of every month, I shuffle off to my local library reading group. Our reading list is essentially whatever the librarian can get her hands on more than ten copies of, and so is sometimes ridiculous (“here's the second in a trilogy because we only had nine copies of number one!”) often repetitive (“enjoy your third Costa nominee in a row about Europe in WWII!”) and sometimes far too much of a challenge to be completed inside a month – when faced with Charles Dickens' Our Mutu ...more
Feb 14, 2017 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fictionalized account of the life of Charles Dickens told from the perspective of his wife who he abandoned in the last 10 years of his life. I loved this book. It is over 400 pages but it felt like a much shorter book because it was so enjoyable. The author brings alive the Victorian period (with even a visit to the Queen herself) and she brings alive the character of the spurned wife, Dorothea. You feel so outraged for her and how her husband treated her. I highly recommend this ...more
Cecilee Linke
Apr 17, 2013 Cecilee Linke rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
Over a year ago, I encountered this book at a local library book sale and bought it for about five dollars. The plot sounded intriguing to me, since I am a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly books that are set in the 19th century, so I figured why not! This book even still has the library jacket on it! I began reading the first chapter but then set it aside for a while and didn't come back to it until about a month ago, when I realized that I have a bad habit of starting books and not ...more
Jan 15, 2017 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very torn about this book. It's beautifully written and marvelously detailed, and the characterizations are superb. I can see why Gibson was so compelling (and Dickens, if this is true to his story), and I'm seriously impressed with the complex nuances of not only his character but all the others in the novel - no mean feat. The story itself is fascinating and sort of awful (of course, I went off to see if Dickens did all of these things - and he did). But it went on a little too long, particula ...more
Rachelle Miller
Jan 08, 2017 Rachelle Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is based on the life & marriage of Charles Dickens. Told from the wife's point of view, starting on the day of Alfred's (Dickens -the author changed all names) funeral. It is intriguing & sad all at the same time. And I saw myself so much in Mrs. Gibson (Dickens). I really enjoyed this book. So much so, that I would consider purchasing my own copy. And there were no rated r parts at all!
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 22, 2015 09:51AM  
this is not a book! 3 23 Jun 16, 2012 03:21PM  
  • Tides of War
  • The Lost Dog
  • The Taste of Sorrow
  • The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Still Point
  • From A to X: A Story in Letters
  • The Northern Clemency
  • Girl Mary
  • The Lady and the Poet
  • Mr. Darwin's Shooter
  • Sweet Thames
  • The Dressmaker
  • The Glass of Time (The Meaning of Night, #2)
  • The Rose of Sebastopol
  • The Wet Nurse's Tale
  • Ever After
  • The Trial of Elizabeth Cree
  • Castle Rouge (Irene Adler, #6)

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“...anticipation of happiness can sometimes be as gratifying as its consummation.” 14 likes
“As I know only too well, anticipation od happiness can sometimes be as gratifying as its consummation. Even during the first months of my separation, every footstep on the pavement would have me racing to the window, and every ring of the doorbell would set my heart beating as fast as a bird's. But as the months went by without even a word, I gradually had to relinquish my hopes of seeing him again. It was not easy to do so, and I am not sure whether I have managed it entirely; however I did stop waking with that thought in my head, imagining what he was doing every hour of the day, and whether his journey would by chance take him past my door. I tried to tell myself instead that I was fortunate in my neglect; that now I needed have no fear that he would arrive and his gimlet eye start to anatomize the cushions, or the curtains, or the state of the fireplace; that now, at last, my life was my own. But truth to tell, I would have given anything to see him walk with his jaunty step up to my front door and rap out a cheerful rhythm with his silver-topped cane.” 4 likes
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