As we all (might) know, I HATE Dickens with a passion that should probably reserved for child rapists and people who don't recycle. Perhaps conversely, that is why I enjoyed this book. I don't know any details of Dickens' life - although if the ones in the book mirror them, he was a prize bastard, and HA - or his books, besides the ones I attempted, so it was like reading unalloyed fiction. The Alfred Gibson/Dickens character was the jewel of the narrative, but again, I'm not sure how much of it was based on reality. I don't think Arnold can claim as much glory for her depiction as she would otherwise have done.
It was very easy to read; but there was nothing stunning in either the writing or the plot, which was basically a series of interactions between Dorothea, the estranged wife, and those she's been estranged from for years. None of said characters ever appeared again. There was very little resolution to some of the arcs, besides a general sense of 'well, it's ancient history and I forgive you.' I would be curious as to whether Dickens really did leave any unfinished novels behind when he died (pity they weren't all unfinished), but not curious enough to even google it. The ending was definitely the weakest part of the book.
However, the scene with Alfred at the seaside will stick with me for a while. It's always fun to read about the bastards - and for the record, I was totally on Alfred's side. Imagine being married to an amadán like Dodo - you'd die of boredom.
Previously, on Book Glomp 2008:
Middlemarch | Invisible Monsters | A Thousand Splendid Suns | Love in the Time of Cholera | Oscar and Lucinda | Kim | Breakfast at Tiffany's | Atonement | To the Lighthouse | On the Road | Brideshead Revisited | Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance | Bonjour Tristesse | A Passage to India | Three Men in a Boat | Vile Bodies | Prozac Nation | The Heart of the Matter | Jinx; Airhead | Doomsday Book | The Gum Thief | Choke | The Stone Gods | Beauty | Before They Are Hanged | The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation | Franny and Zooey