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Tic in the Brain

Deborah Friedell: Mrs Dickens

11 September 2008
Girl in a Blue Dress 
by Gaynor Arnold.
Tindall Street, 438 pp., £9.99, August 2008, 978 0 9556476 1 1
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... infatuation with the teenage actress Nelly Ternan – prevailed. Yet throughout his life Dickens insisted that it was his wife who had failed him, because of the ‘peculiarity of her character’. GaynorArnold’s first novel, Girl in a Blue Dress, long-listed for the Booker Prize, is a retelling of the Dickens marriage, and although the names have been changed (the great man is now called ‘Alfred ...

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