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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating appetiser for Tomalin's new Dickens biography.
This is an account of the woman with whom Dickens had an intimate relationship for over a decade, though the ranks of family and other supporters sought to hide the fact from the what would have been a scandalised and disapproving world.

Tomalin's book is a fascinating and multi-faceted read. The lengthy background to the Ternan family allows for a really...
Published on 24 Sep 2011 by S. J. Williams

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to Clare Tomalin's other biographies
Nelly Ternan was too shadowy a figure to merit a biography. The book was a rather dull list of possible sightings and movements and none of the characters seemed to have any flesh on them.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. Caroline Carne


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing compared to Clare Tomalin's other biographies, 5 April 2014
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Nelly Ternan was too shadowy a figure to merit a biography. The book was a rather dull list of possible sightings and movements and none of the characters seemed to have any flesh on them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Invisible Woman indeed!, 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Kindle Edition)
I found this book rather tedious, -in fact I was unable to finish it. The author admits that there is very little first hand information about Nelly, which seems to me a great impediment to writing a book about her. I would say the book is a reworking of the author's biography of Dickens and is full of boring information about his visits to various places, including his visits to Nelly, -at times it felt like reading a train timetable.
What Nelly thought about her situation, how she really felt about Dickens, how others treated her as a 'kept woman', what did she do with her time, who were her friends, did she have regrets..... nothing!! The invisible woman in her own biography, how sad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `It seemed like a good moment to start putting something on paper which might restore Nelly to visibility.', 26 Dec 2013
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This book, first published in 1990, is about the actress Nelly Ternan, who had a relationship with Charles Dickens from 1857 until his death in 1870. Ms Tomalin writes that Nelly Ternan `played a central role in the life of Charles Dickens at a time when he was perhaps the best-known man in Britain.' While Nelly Ternan was the first person named in Charles Dickens's will, there is very little documentary evidence of her involvement or importance in his life.

So, who is Nelly Ternan, and why was her name effectively removed from history?

Sadly it appears that none of the letters between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan survived. By piecing together clues found in contemporary playbills, other documents and photographs, Ms Tomalin has created a portrait of Nelly Ternan and her family. As a consequence of Ms Tomalin's research, we also have a clearer picture of the last years of Dickens's life, some potential insights into his writing, as well as of the times in which he lived.

The main reason that Nelly Ternan does not appear in most accounts of Charles Dickens was because he and others worked so hard to protect his image of respectable Victorian morality. After his death, Nelly Ternan kept quiet as well because of her fear of scandal and humiliation. The second reason had to do with Nelly Ternan's origins: as an actress and as a member of an acting family, she belonged to a class of women not considered respectable. Ironically, Charles Dickens first met Nelly Ternan through his own fascination with the theatre: when her family were hired by his amateur theatrical company.

After Dickens died in 1870, Nelly Ternan married a schoolmaster with whom she had two children. Neither of these children learned of her involvement with Dickens until after her death in 1914.

Much of this biography is based on interpretation and speculation, and Ms Tomalin makes this very clear. I found this an absorbing and often sad story about the shadowy life of a woman who was a hidden part of Charles Dickens's life.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Jan 2014
By 
John Hopper (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This is an analysis of the family background and life of Ellen (Nelly) Ternan, the young actress who was almost certainly the mistress of Charles Dickens from 1858 until his death in 1870. Tomalin pieces together a range of evidence from different sources and, while there is no smoking gun, the circumstantial evidence for an affair seems overwhelming. Dickens's associates, in particular his sister-in-law and housekeeper, Georgina Hogarth, and his biographer John Forster, kept the affair secret during his life and after his death. Nelly went along with it, largely keeping the evidence secret until after her own death in 1914, the last of her immediate family; her son Geoffrey found out about it afterwards from examining his mother's papers and talking to the author's last surviving son, Sir Henry Dickens, and it seems to have blighted the remaining 45 years of his life. This collusion was, of course, very much the flavour of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and Dickens's and his family's desire to maintain his uniformly positive public image added an edge to this drive . The book is also interesting in its coverage of the life of actresses in the early 19th century - Nelly's sisters, parents and grandparents were all in the profession, which was then regarded as very disreputable and actresses little better than whores. Interesting stuff, and good photos as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Invisible Woman, 3 July 2012
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Kindle Edition)
This is an excellent account of the relationship between Dickens and Nelly Ternan. What spoiled it for me however, was the quality of the Kindle edition - full of typos, misspellings and incorrect references, e.g. All the Tear Round instead of All the Year Round as the name of the magazine Dickens wrote for. I don't know how these mistakes get through the editing. It is disappointing and can detract from the material.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A well researched book — made a great movie., 11 Aug 2014
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Can't say I enjoyed this book nearly as much as Clair Tomalin's wonderful biography of Charles Dickens. Obviously, Tomalin had to do an enormous amount of digging to get the facts of Nelly's life, which had been hidden in her lifetime. The biography suffers from this, but as the basis of the movie of the same name, it is excellent. Buy the book and please see the movie, which really brings it to life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid research, 5 Aug 2014
By 
Mr. P. Skeldon (sohar, oman) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Kindle Edition)
I bought this after seeing the movie. The book obviously has far more detail, especially the life of Ellen and her family of travelling troupers. It also corrects some of the 'facts' and impressions of the film. Dickens doesn't emerge from the book as well as he is portrayed in the film. Good solid research, and well written personal, social, cultural and literary history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 2 July 2014
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Very happy with this and fast delivery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good true story, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Kindle Edition)
This was hard to get into at first but I came to admire all the research that had been done and the ability to make a story from what was at times tiny snippets of information. Family historians would like this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work as usual by Claire Tomalin, 11 April 2014
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What a complete stinker Mr. Dickens was. Well, no not really, he did so much for so many in his sphere, how shocking to read of his vile treatment of his poor worn out wife. The Midlife Crisis has a lot to answer for, thank goodness he didn't have access to a fax machine or I expect he would have jettisoned the poor woman via that.

So well written, so interesting.
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