“Charles V. Catherine Dickens; As They Were” by Jean Wilson

Published by MX Publishing – Reviewed by Louise Owens.

This book focuses on the life of Charles Dickens and those immediately surrounding him from when Dickens was 19, in 1831, to his death in 1870 and it’s outcomes. Drawing on Gladys Storey’s book, ‘Dickens and Daughter’, Helen Thompson’s 1858 letter to Mrs Stark, John Forster’s ‘Life of Dickens Vol. 2’ and various papers, Wilson assembles a fictionalised account of Dickens’ life. She speaks of Dickens’ need and desire to never fall within the grasps of the debtors’ prison again, his genius of the written word, his fame and its effect, his friendships and working relationships, his work helping women in need and, most of all, his family life. Dickens’ personal life is quite alarming and, as Wilson notes, the exchanges of this genius can ‘make uncomfortable reading’. Wilson writes of Dickens’ wife, Catherine’s, view and stance; ‘Catherine, with dignity, did not retaliate’. Wilson includes opinions of Dickens’ parents-in-law and some of his eldest children. With many of the pieces of the jigsaw missing, we may never know the exact details of parts of Dickens’ life. This book was a fascinating overview of Dickens’ personality, working habits and home life. 

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