Kathleen Jowitt's Reviews > The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin
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The invisible woman of the title is Charles Dickens' mistress Ellen Ternan: a challenging subject for a biographer, because of the sheer dearth of material. Many relevant letters and diaries were destroyed by Dickens himself or members of the family. Consequently, there's a lot of speculation in this. Claire Tomalin is scrupulous about pointing out what she doesn't know, and what's conjecture; I was less bothered by her outlining a plausible turn of events than I was by her guessing about what people 'must have' felt. With so little left on which to base a reading of character, the Victorian mores become the villain of the piece, both as an evil in themselves and as the cause of the erasure of so much detail of a woman's life.

What I really found this worth reading for, however, was the background detail about the theatre in the nineteenth century, and particularly women's lives within it.

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Reading Progress

March 31, 2020 – Started Reading
April 4, 2020 – Shelved
April 4, 2020 – Finished Reading

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