Without further ado…
The invisible woman is Nelly Ternan, the woman that shared the last 13 years of the life of Charles Dickens. When they meet she is 18, an actress, a ‘fallen woman’ by victorian standards. He is 45 at the height of his fame, a husband and the father of 10 children, the perfect image of the pater familias. He leaves his wife in the most shameful way and they share a life that they manage to hide from the public eye. It is considered essential for the protection of Dickens good name with a public that idolized him. It enables him to continue in his role as the great upholder of family values. They were so efficient that they managed to erase most of the traces of their association. Nelly was able to reappear after his death as an entirely new person, construction a background and history that enabled her to re-enter society and even suit the strict requirements of the victorian society.
It was fascinating to read about this unknown side of Dickens and it also shed an interesting light on his treatment of female characters in his books.
Orphan Train is based on facts: from the mid 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th century there was no system to deal with orphans or foster children. It was left to churches and charitable organization to find them parents. One of the solution devised was to put them on a train bound for the midwest, advertise it in towns along the route and let the children go with anyone who wanted them. The older they were, the more chances they had to be used as free labor living as indentured servants. Such was Vivian Daly’s life from Ireland to New York City and then sent to the midwest.
It was a good read but I wasn’t too thrilled by the character of Molly Ayer in the novel. I couldn’t see the need to layer her story in with Vivian. It was a good easy read.
Bossypants I resisted reading this book for a while. Don’t ask me why I am just weird about best sellers that way. I listened to it on Audible and I loved the beginning and the end. Love her humor and her unabashed feminism. The middle was all about SNL and 30 rocks and I never watched them so it was way less interesting.
The Lady of the Rivers, White Queen, Red Queen, The Kingmaker’s Daughter this fascination (obsession) with this series by Phillippa Gregory all started when I watched the Starz series “the White Queen“. I picked up the books and I couldn’t stop reading. It is based on the succession war between two branches of the Plantagenets family. It’s a view by three different protagonists in the war of the roses: Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. Three views of the same events. I love that Gregory gives a voice to women which are often overlooked in history. I also was fact checking as I read and historically I couldn’t fault her. I loved loved this series and I have the two last on my nightstand.
Six books in February and in case you’re wondering I did not farm my kids out. I just went on a TV fast. My friend Linh (who’s catholic) and me (muslim) always share our lent intentions. She gave up posting pictures of her cooking (which if you knew her and tasted her food you would know is a big sacrifice) and I gave up TV. It’s amazing what one can do with all the TV free time
I couldn’t help but notice while I was writing my post that all my books were about strong women. It wasn’t intentional but I am clearly draw to women who lead their lives in an unapologetic way.
And now I’m off to shoveling snow for the third time this week. Stay warm and for those of you that are…lucky!!