I'm not going to bother too much with the likes of such as Doris Duke because she and others like her received notoriety only because of the family into which they were born; I want to know more about the person who was born to a middle or lower class and who strove and who achieved greatness. Lets start with literary giants..Faulkner. Carson McCullers. Margaret Mitchell. And more modern writers..Updike. Styron. Capote. Garcia Marquez. And poets--Sexton. Plath. Ted Hughes. Millay. These are just some of the writers whose bios I have read.
Now I am just beginning to read a book called 'Girl in a Blue Dress' by Gaynor Arnold.
Over the last couple of years there has appeared on the scene a rather new genre, or at least one that is new to me, referred to as the 'true novel.' This strikes me as peculiar and I find it irritating because those two words are diametrically opposed. I first came across it when I read Jeannette Walls last book, 'Half Broke Horses,' amd now, here it is again. Ive determined what this means; it means conversations were included that are totally made up, tho the circumstances surrounding those conversations did, in all probability, exist. Now that I've straightened out that bit of business, lets get back to 'Girl in A Blue Dress.'
This is the loosely disguised story of Catherine Dickens, first wife to Charles. The book calls them Alfred and Dorothea Gibson. (As a little aside, I am not happy that Arnold has rechristened Catherine as Dorothea; Dorothea is the name of one of my favorite characters in all of literature, Dorothea Brooke, from George Eliot's 'Middlemarch.)
Dickens was not kind to Catherine; he scorned her for giving birth to each of his kids ..even tho he did have a part in that too.. and kicked her to the curb after she stuck with him through the lean years, only to be forgotten when he became famous and took up with this young actress named Ellen.
In short, Dickens was an ass.
But, boy, the man could write.
Catherine (Dorothea) had a special burden that only a few women have ever carried; she was deeply in love with a man who treated her badly but who was adored by most of the world.
'Girl in A Blue Dress' was longlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008.