Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle" by Heera Datta

"Yet, twenty-one years after they wed, Charles Dickens very publicly separated from her, denouncing her as an unfit mother and wife. He removed her from his home, his life, and the lives of his children. He never saw her again, not even when their son, Walter, died at the age of twenty three in faraway India."..........

Charles Dickens held the world on his word. His wife, Catherine, and their ten children were his world. That is until he decided to take up with another woman. So Charles set up a way to let his family go, force people to take sides and leave Catherine as if he never cared for her.

The story written covers both fact and fiction. Fact- from letters that Charles had written to Catherine at one time. Her "proof" that he did love her once. Fiction- as to what Catherine did, and how she actually handled the betrayal behind closed doors.  The letters give her comfort to what once was. She lives for the hope that he'll change his mind and come for her, after sending her away from the family home.

It was an interesting tale, both sad and bittersweet. The ultimate betrayal by a husband and father, yet the world loved him, and most likely believed every printed word. Catherine had little on her side. A time in history, the mid 1800's, that would have found little sympathy for a woman said to be incompetent as a wife and mother.  Sad to think she worried that her children would turn on her also and hate her. Her own family chose sides. One son, Charley, chose to remain with her.

I can't imagine a more miserable existence. To be a devoted wife and mother, and then to suddenly have none of the things you did daily for your family in your life. The grief must have been unbearable for this woman. Written in a way that truly pulls at your emotions, especially as a wife and mother.  What a sad way this woman's life played out.

I enjoyed this unique story. I learned something about a subject I previously had no knowledge of. I did look up some information on Catherine Dickens to see how closely this story line followed her life. While there is no way to know exactly how she acted or the things she said, I have little doubt that her story played out closely along these lines.

Thank you Herra Datta