Freshman novelist Gaynor Arnold exquisitely imbues a story that takes place more than 150 years ago with a ripped-from-today's-headlines texture, while simultaneously hurtling readers headlong into the heart and soul of Victorian womanhood. Using as inspiration letters written by Charles Dickens to his wife Catherine, Arnold riffs on a theme we see played out everyday in the 21st century. That is, how much does the family of a celebrity owe to the public and to posterity? Is any sacrifice too great when it comes to supporting a creative genius? To further complicate this dilemma, Arnold's novel takes place in an era of unyielding social standards and moral regulations, a time when many women struggle within the constraints of suffocating options. It is also a time when such raging celebrity as Dickens enjoyed is mostly unheard of.
So it's fitting that Arnold's fictionalized account ...
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