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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Charles Dickens

Dickens:A Biography by Fred Kaplan
Paperback: 640 pages
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (September 11, 1998)
ISBN-10: 0801860180 

From Publishers Weekly
"This first major biography of Dickens in nearly 40 years is a winning mix of insight, narrative skill and shrewd judgment," commended PW. As limned here, "Dickens was convivial, loyal, secretive and arrogant, with a 'performance personality' that required applause for self-definition."

When I picked this book up in a used book store for $1.00 I thought "ok, MAYBE one day I will read this".. I couldn't refuse the price!

I'm not sure why I picked it up to read when I did, and I fully expected to be bored with it within a few days and lay it aside... but that didn't happen!

The author, Fred Kaplan, had an excellent style  to make things interesting... and so I read on and on until this morning when I finished it!

My mini-fascination with Charles Dickens and Wilke Collins truly began when I read Drood, a historical fiction that made Dickens and Collins both sound interesting and captivating.   Since then I read Dickens Christmas Carol (always saw the movie and never read the book), and The Old Curiosity Shop .  I also read the Woman in While by Wilke Collins, and a few other fiction books about them both.

This Biography, though long, kept my interest.  Dickens didn't lead an adventurous life nor was much of his life spectacular, with the exception of his writing of course, but still the book prevailed. The author managed to merge the biggest truths about Dickens writings and that was that most all his writings had some autobiographical touch to them.  Often his father was one of the figures in his books and many times he himself drew things from his childhood to write upon.
I did learn some small things too, like the fact that Dickens had 10 children.  One was a miscarriage though and another died shortly after birth.  Actually he outlived most of his other 8 children.

I was surprised to find out that he and Wilke had not met earlier in his career, but in fact later, yet still became good friends and even collaborated on some writings.
In the book Dickens moves around quite a bit and begins his "readings" of some of his work, which takes him to come across the pond to America twice in his life .  He also separates from his wife later in the book.

A big thing I noticed in the writing is the feeling one gets for the time and place of where Dickens is ..and how doctors have yet to discover how to care for and cure illnesses.
If you want to know about Dickens his biography is a good place to start. But don't pick it up expecting a bunch of "dirty little secrets" or adventure , still I can say I liked the book and I'm glad I read it.


Blogger Cath said...

Sounds good, Pat, and $1 is such a bargain! You'd have liked the doc. that was on TV a couple of years ago with Miriam Margolyes. She went to the US and followed in Dickens' footsteps, visiting all the places he did readings in. Was very interesting. Peter and I went to the Dickens museum in London too, several years ago. It's small but also very interesting. I'll grab this book from the library one day.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

I'm reading Our Mutual Friend right now and loving it! And isn't it great when a book surprises you like that! I haven't read a grown-up biography of Dickens, just children's ones. But I love that you're interested in Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens. :) I discovered both of these authors last year and discovered that I love them both :)

9:25 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

You might accidentally be interested in Girl in a Blue Dress by Gaynor Arnold. It's a fictionalized novel of Charles' broken marriage.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Ladytink_534 said...

I very rarely read author biographies but I would have had to snatch this up for that price! I've only read two Dickens before and one was while I was in middle school so I don't remember much.

10:48 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Cath: just because I read Drood some time ago, it made me wonder if this biography didn't downplay his addiction, or if his addiction was bad or not?? (you reallly need to read drood lol)

Becky: when I was young I doubt either name would have passed my lips, but I am glad I discovered them and the time in which they lived.

Tink: all i used to know of Dickens was that he wrote Christmas Carole and as much as I loved that movie I never even read the book until about a year ago. The book Drood made me much more interested in him and Wilke Collins than I ever thought I would be

6:43 AM  
Blogger Cath said...

Yep, I know I need to read Drood. I've ear-marked it for the warm (I don't say hot any more, not since I found out what kind of temps you have to endure) summer months. *Or* will read it for RIP in the autumn. Would you believe I already have a pile of books out for Once Upon a Time? LOL!

7:01 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I have Drood earmarked too! Your review here made me look over at it longingly. I also have Bleak House to read, and whole host of other Charles Dickens books, since I really enjoyed The Mystery of Edwin Drood last year when I finally read my first Charles Dickens. This biography sounds like it might be fun to pick up to have a background to him. Thanks, Pat! I'm really glad you enjoyed it, too.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Well, it had to be good to keep your interest for 640 pages, huh? :) I always think I might really enjoy reading biographies and memoirs (in fact, I have more than an entire shelf-worth of them), but they just never seem to be what I'm in the mood for when I pick up a book. I have a feeling that if I ever got started though, I'd find that I really enjoy them.

6:30 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Susan: I was only looking for gothic mystery in early England when I found Drood.. I never really thought it would take me ona journey of Dickens and Collins! I can read books "about them" (true or fiction) easier then I can read their books, but slowly I AM reading some of their books! (never EVER thought I'd say that!)

Debi:If someone REALLY interests you, you should enjoy learning about them..but to be also depends on the author if its not an autobiography..

6:42 AM  

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