Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold

The craziness in my life lately has led to less reading time, which I hate. But if I’m reading fewer books, at least they are awesome ones!

Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold kept me enthralled. It is loosely based on Charles Dickens’ marriage, which I didn’t know anything about. And while much is fictionalized–even to the point of changing their names so as not to confuse historical record with fiction–what I appreciated about the book was the author’s attempt to understand both Charles Dickens and his wife, to imagine what they might have been thinking, how they might have misunderstood one another. Everything about those imaginings rang true to me as there were no pat answers and many complications within each person’s character.

Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor ArnoldBeyond my fascination with the relationship, both the fictional and the historical nature of it, I was in awe at the way the story unfolded. A present moment story sandwiched with the past tense story in a way that made sense and completely worked. And a set of characters beyond the fictional Dodo and Alfred Gibson came to life on the pages.

Of course it is possible that my love of this story also has to do with the fact that it’s about a woman who has had little to do and almost no company for ten years. After my few weeks in that kind of a life during our relocation, I’ve thought a lot about women in history thrust into that kind of a world. It’s maddening and demoralizing. It nearly drove me crazy! But I had ways in which to relieve my situation that often women in other time periods did not. And so I empathized with Dodo as her story unfolded and cheered with her at the end.