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De vrouw van de boekbinder

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,183 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Londen, 1859. Tegen de tijd dat Dora Damage erachter komt dat het niet goed gaat met haar echtgenoot is het al te laat. Zijn handen zijn inmiddels helemaal vergroeid door reumatische artritis, en daardoor dreigt zijn boekbindersbedrijf ten onder te gaan. Het komt zo ver dat zijn gezin bijna het armenhuis in moet.
Dora staat alleen voor een bijna onmogelijke taak. Ze moet al
Hardcover, 430 pages
Published November 13th 2007 by Uitgeverij Archipel (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  1,183 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay book. About a poor woman in 1860s London who takes over her husband's book-binding business when his health deteriorates. Wonderful setting and characters. Charming writing. Interesting and very unique plotline. I liked it up until a certain point between the middle and end, where the story went into an odd and rather absurd place for me. Because the beginning was all so realistic, with a large part dedicated to showing how Dora manages to make due with the little her family has, when it cr ...more
Andi M.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bibliophiles
Shelves: review-books
The Journal of Dora Damage is a wonderful book about a woman who takes over her husband's book binding business and falls into a job binding pornography for a secret society of London's upper crust. Dora finds herself on an intellectual and sexual journey that awakes her senses and puts her entire family in danger. Starling has crafted a beautiful tale full of intrigue and atmosphere. Sadly, the author passed away shortly after completing this book. Definitely give this wonderful book a shot. ...more
Ava Black
This is a hard book for me to rate because I think it had a lot of potential but, as it often happens, it did not stand up to it.
When I pick up a novel I always look for:

1) a great, strong - headed and strong - willed heroine! A girl who is not a frail woman who need other people ( especially men ) to tell her what to do. At the same time, my ideal heroine has her own flaws and is sensitive.

2) A way with words. This is very simple, most of the books are written by people who, for me, shouldnt'
You’re probably looking at the description for Belinda Starling’s “The Journal of Dora Damage and thinking, “Not yet ANOTHER Victorian-era novel based on sex, intrigue, murder, etc” while rolling your eyes. Well, stop being a Debbie Downer! “The Journal of Dora Damage doesn’t follow a traditional story arc, as one would expect.

“The Journal of Dora Damage” lacks a “usual” introduction to the narrator (clearly, Dora in first person perspective), and her family. However, this is the prime case stu
Janie Johnson
It was probably not a good idea for me to struggle through a historical fiction and then pick up another historical fiction after that, but that was exactly what I did. I was reading this one for my 'J' in the A-Z challenge. I have to say though that this one was surprisingly good. It started a bit slow but gradually got better. The difference between this one and the one before is the fact that there was a story to be told in this one.

In this story we have our main character Dora Damage in the
Nov 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not many books finish with a note from another author (in this case, Boris Starling who happens to be Belinda´s brother telling us the unfortunate and untimely death of his sister immediately after she finished writing her debut novel - The Journal Of Dora Damage. It´s really sad that such a promising author had met such a ungrateful death especially when she shows in her first and only novel such talent. Sad, indeed,
As for the novel itself, there were times when I pondered to review this book w
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tragically, this was the only book the author wrote before she passed away at a young age.

I would classify this book as historical suspense. The author does an incredible job conveying the main character, Dora's, desperation, fright and lust. It's the first time in a long time that I "felt" the anxiety of the main character. I will say that if you are easily disturbed, this might not be for you, as it explores the early pornography trade, and the main characters discovery of herself as a sexual
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very promising first half. Starling has a nice touch with the prose, and is convincing on Dora's Victorian world. She's clearly done her research, and it was fascinating to learn about the craft of book-binding. I think in our age of mass-production, books have lost their uniqueness and individual worth. I love the idea of getting a bespoke binding for a favourite volume. I love the idea of the binder choosing materials to suit the book's content and the character of the reader. I want one. :-)

Steve Shilstone
Powerful start puts you right there in 1859 Lambeth with a lady book-binder. Second half goes for the melodrama. A very fine first historical fiction effort. A shame she died soon after completing it at age 34.
Paging Snidget
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful. Starts out alright but then spirals into a vulgar soap opera. Has way too many storylines and deals with none of them properly.
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, as the rating indicates, I really liked it. (And for those of you wondering why it took me so long to finish it, as it's been on my "currently reading" list forever, the answer is: it didn't take me that long, I just delayed updating my info as I wanted to write a thoughtful review, and life was in the way.)

If you like stories set in Victorian London, and/or if you like stories about strong female characters who are nevertheless hemmed in by cultural circumstances, then you will like this
This story follows Dora Damage as she takes over her ill husband's book binding business. A woman running a business is very frowned upon by her neighbours and customers but she needs to make a living to support her child. As money becomes harder to come by, she starts binding illegal pornographic books for her wealthier clients. As often happens in illegal business, she finds herself getting deeper and deeper into this new world of slavery, sex and money.
This book really brings you into the sig
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed the beginning of this book and was interested in all the book binding info but as Dora sank further into the mire of pornography so the text became more and more explicit until I couldn't stand any more. I got about half way through the book (to the kidnapping) so perhaps I'd read the worst of it but I wasn't enjoying it any more and couldn't stomach the thought of any graphic details which might crop up in the rest of the book. Disappointing because it felt gratuitous and un ...more
Emi Bevacqua
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: euro, fiction
The Journal of Dora Damage by Belinda Starling is a great book though the ending wasn't as fabulous as the first 90% of it... kind of like No Country For Old Men. But it was super original and absorbing, about a lady bookbinder in Victorian England who gets involved in a pornography ring, heh. Sadly it was the author's first and only book. ...more
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completely absorbing...loved it! A memorable array of beautifully described characters, and the descriptions of every day life in 1860's London for the 'lower-middle class' were gritty and believable. Best of all, the intriguing and sinister story at the core of the novel pulled me in and I couldn't put it down. ...more
Erika Schmid
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Victorian London, bookbinding is still an art form completed by hand and engraved by artistic individuals. Seeped in both the eloquent and the depraved, this novel provides a look into the raunchy rise of unsavory books hidden under well bound covers.

Dora Damage's husband owns such a shop that binds books. While her father was a book binder too, Dora's husband refuses to let her help in the shop that is beginning to flounder as her husband finds that his arthritic hands are unable to keep up
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book. The wife of a bookbinder takes up her husband's craft when his arthritis makes it hard for him to work and his use of opium becomes an issue. Some of the elite of the city begin to use her for binding ever more erotic texts. She becomes even better at intricate bookbinding than her husband ever hoped to. But, she is also drawing into dark areas with her choice of clientele.

Its a fascinating read. A little clumsy at times. I think she could have maybe added a bi
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rachelle
Two words: Deliciously salacious.

With that said: I'm SO upset this was Starling's first and--having been published posthumously--ONLY novel. It's one of the best, most tightly-plotted, intimately-drawn tales I've read in a very long time.

I was lucky to stumble upon this gem, and I'm heartbroken there won't be any others.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a gripping brilliant book. I loved Dora Damage's character - she did what she could in spite of ridiculous social restrictions of the time including her husband's expectations of a wife, and she worked really hard for her family. The subject matter is rather shocking if you're at all prudish but Dora is wonderful. ...more
Marilyn Saul
I very much enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book, though I wanted to knock Peter in the head. I especially liked the whole bookbinding experience. I was fine through the pornography, but when the threats to Lucinda and the horrible bind in which Dora found herself, I just couldn't stomach it any more. ...more
Karen Hogan
A woman takes over her husband's bookbinding business in Victorian England, and keeps the business afloat by publishing pornographic material for aristocrats. I read 100 pages, but wasn't compelled to read more, mainly because I detested her husband, who was a lout and a condescending bore. ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling story of a woman who has to take drastic action to save her life and family. A bit over-dramatic in places and, like they say on the telly, some readers might find some of the content disturbing. Keep your mind broad and you'll find an uplifting tale of pre-suffragette feminism. ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-bookshelf
First half of this was enjoyable and engaging; I loved Dora’s character and the premise of the novel. Half way in I lost interest and eventually gave up as too many storylines were being thrown in and it became a mess. Shame because it was a really promising start.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don’t tattoo your bottom
Alan Pilkington
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unconventional, atmospheric, chronicles a resourceful woman making her way in a man's world aided by a group of similarly downtrodden characters.u ...more
A bit of unexpected fun.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I couldn’t get past 100 pages. It wasn’t for me.
The second half sadly didn't live up to the first.
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sad to hear of the authors passing. I would have loved to have read more from her, especially given the quality of her first novel.
Ana Salamanca López
An enjoyable experience about Victorian times and the role of women in the binding industry related to the production of pornography.
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Belinda Starling was born in 1972 and died in 2006, aged 34, of complications following surgery. Her novel 'The Journal of Dora Damage' was published posthumously. ...more

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