rating: 4 of 5 stars
I may not appreciate Charles Dicken's writing, but his life certainly makes for a good novel. This was a very quick read, not only because it falls comfortably into the easily digestible language of the YA genre, but because it was well-paced, with the backstory woven into the "current" plot in a very logical, forward-moving sort of way. I generally do not appreciate "old England" sorts of books, either, but this one got the language just right. What's more, the characters were fully believable and multidimensional; the narrator was just the right amount of indignant, compassionate, wistful, and independent for her time, age, and station in life, and she told her story in an equally appropriate manner. Seeing Alfred (i.e. Dickens) through her eyes as well as the eyes of her friends and children in the way of 3rd party characters provided a fascinating spectrum of perspectives on the character, and fleshed out the novel.
My one and only complaint is that the author made herself "known," in the section where Dorothea (the narrator) begins to rant about women's liberation. While thematically presenting this idea was not far-fetched, Dorothea's making a scene over this subject was not consistent with her character's temperament, nor did it fit the situation. This was the only disruptive segment of the novel, and without it, Girl in a Blue Dress would have provided a seamless, compelling read from beginning to end. It's the sort of book that keeps the reader wrapped up in the world it has created, and as we all know, these are the best sorts of books. Escapism will forever be invaluable.
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