The Dress Lodger (Ballantine Reader's Circle)

by Sheri Holman | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0345436911 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingJDTwing of Pleasanton, California USA on 2/3/2005
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingJDTwing from Pleasanton, California USA on Thursday, February 03, 2005
Couldn't resist the cover art and description of this book:

From Publishers Weekly
Scrawny and tough, only 15, Gustine is the heartrending protagonist of Holman's brilliantly stark portrayal of 19th-century urban life, class warfare, cruel medicine and encroaching pestilence in the English city of Sunderland. With remarkable breadth and depth, the narrative vividly portrays the human suffering spawned by the early Industrial Revolution. Inhabitants of city slums endure oozing sores, infections, liceAnot to mention the devastating cholera morbus making its lethal way through Sunderland's population. Gustine works two jobs to support her beloved illegitimate infant, who was born with his heart outside his chest cavity. By day she's a potter's assistant, but to earn enough to live, by night she walks the streets wearing an expensive, elegant blue gown supplied by her pimp/landlord as a ploy to attract higher-class tricks. Pimp Whilky Robinson employs a deaf-mute, one-eyed old woman to follow Gustine constantly, to protect the dress, his treasured investment. Gustine hates the old woman, called "The Eye," but cannot shake this all-seeing symbol of mortality and fate ("Does not old age always dog youth? Does not monstrosity forever shadow beauty?"). Seeking medical help for her ailing child, Gustine strikes up an alliance with surgeon and anatomist Dr. Henry Chivers. The doctor needs corpses for dissection and since Gustine stumbles upon plenty of dead bodies in her night work, she becomes a resource for the ambitious, depraved doctor. The cholera epidemic, graphically and tirelessly described, entwines the lives of the doctor and Gustine, even as Dr. Chivers grows reckless in the resurrection business, eventually inviting violent retribution by impoverished citizens who discover their loved ones' pauper-graves exhumed. Holman (A Stolen Tongue) delivers a wealth of morbid, authentic detail, as well as an emotional pivot in her captivating Moll Flanders-like heroine. The major characters are buttressed by a vivacious cast of minors: Whilky's cowed daughter, Pink; a troupe of traveling thespians; pawnbrokers; rat catchers; and sailors. Holman's style is risky and direct, treating scenes of Gustine's quick, humiliating back-alley couplings as well as the doctor's hypocritical sleaze, with unflinching emotional precision. This dazzlingly researched epic is an uncommon read.

Plan to preview, then read or share.

Journal Entry 2 by wingJDTwing from Pleasanton, California USA on Sunday, July 31, 2005
An intriguing, rich, and disturbing book - set in 19th century England: cholera epidemic, suffering, poverty, prostitution for survival...

Sent to Sidney Y - a surprise RABCK with another book requested on paperbackswap.com.

To read or pass on...

Journal Entry 3 by Sidney1220 from McLean, Virginia USA on Friday, August 12, 2005
Received as a surprise gift with another book I ordered from paperbackswap.com! Thanks. Will read soon.

6/26/06 Offered on reverse wishlist bookrelay. Reserved for KarinAlyssa.

7/5/06 Mailed at the post office.

Journal Entry 4 by KarinAlyssa on Thursday, July 13, 2006
wishlist book, yay !!! One I had just added to my wishlist when Sidney offered it to me. Thanks Sid !!!

Journal Entry 5 by KarinAlyssa on Saturday, August 04, 2007
I had heard so much regarding the greatness of that book, but somehow I was slightly disappointed. The plot was interesting, but I couldn''t identify with anything and honestly, the cholera parts were weird and all the clichés were regrouped in one. However, I liked the way Sheri Holmes described characters and settings, allowing me to be there... It was an enjoyable book, but not one I''d read a second time, thanks for sharing Appa !

available for now.

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