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Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterly biography, 4 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens (Paperback)
With little original material, most of which was destroyed by the parties concerned, Tomalin has skilfully constructed a convincing account of Nelly Ternan's life, aspects of which she, and those around her, attempted to keep secret.

So, of necessity, much of the biography is theory, but Tomalin theorises based on psychological analysis; she makes convincing cases because she looks at the evidence with a nineteenth century mindset; this is likely to have happened, she opines, because this is the way things were in the Victorian period. She backs up her theories by sketching in the required background, whether is the perception of actresses by society or the improvements in railway systems.

The biography is well written with comprehensive notes and bibliography. It will appeal not just to readers interested in Dickens or Victorian literature, but also to anyone who enjoys a good detective story, to those interested in genealogy, the role of women in Victorian society and theatrical life in the mid-nineteenth century.

Ternan's story demonstrates how easy it was to lead double lives, cover one's tracks, and re-invent oneself in the days before mass communication, the internet and intrusive journalism.

I could have read it at one sitting, if I didn't have to get on with the business of eating and working!
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