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Review of The Invisible Woman

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Gayda Report 5 Mar 2014 20:13

This fascinating book tells the story of a young girl, Nelly Ternan, and her relationship with the author, Charles Dickens. Nelly and her family were actors and had been asked by a mutual friend to take over the parts Dickens' family had been playing in 'The Frozen Deep'. Dickens and Wilkie Collins had co-written the play for a lark and it had become more successful than they anticipated. According to the author of this book, Dickens was obsessed with Nelly from the moment they met, and eventually deserted his wife and family in order to spend as much time as possible with her. Whether or not Nelly was entirely happy with the situation is a matter of opinion, but she did give up her career (such that it was) and allow him to set her up in her own home. Dickens became not only her benefactor, but also that of her mother and two older sisters. To his dying day he insisted that the relationship was platonic. It is for us, the readers, to decide if we believe the story or not, but the evidence in my opinion leaves little room for doubt. I loved the book and found it impossible to put down.