Book Reviews of The Dress Lodger

The Dress Lodger
The Dress Lodger
Author: Sheri Holman
ISBN-13: 9780340717844
ISBN-10: 034071784X
Publication Date: 8/17/2000
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 4

3.4 stars, based on 4 ratings
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

56 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
This is one of those books you will either love or hate. It is a very depressing book about a very depressing time. I found the history fascinating and the story boring. I had very little empathy for the main characters other than the poor fiance of Dr. Chivers. I did learn some history, but otherwise.. a waste.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
Beautifully written but a little lacking in plot, I felt. Historically, it was fascinating. Although the main character is a prostitute, I felt there were parts that were unneccessarily and almost gratuitously crude. Also, the voice was a little hard to get used to at first, it begins in second person. Overall, worth reading for the insight into the history and for the artistic writing style but not for an overwhelmingly great plot.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 56 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
I enjoyed this read...a very dark, haunting original and richly written novel about the Cholera epidemic in London in the 1830's. Gustine, the main character was gritty, intelligent and wise beyond her young 15 years. The style of writing was unique and the book grips you from the first page.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 80 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
I just finished reading this and it was the most original, wonderfully written story I have read in a long time. It brought out a lot of emotion in me; this book makes you sympathize with seemingly unredeemable personalities. If you're looking for a happy ending or any kind of romance, this isn't for you. But I recommend highly to anyone who wants a fascinating literary experience that sucks you in and keeps you absorbed until the very last page.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Could not get into it, so I did not finish it. I recommend the Crimson Petal and the White or Slammerkin instead.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 600 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
Finished reading this today and I was pleasantly surprised. Although the writing style of Holman - speaking in the 2nd person - was a little disconcerting at first, you get used to it as the story progresses. The story was very captivating and disturbing about the life of a young prostitute during the Cholera epidemic of 1831. Gustine is a "dress lodger" -- a prostitute who rents a dress from her landlord and then sells herself on the street. Interwoven into the novel is the story of Dr. Henry Chivers, a doctor who specializes in anatomy and his quest for human cadavers to further his studies and teachings. Gustine crosses paths with Dr. Chivers on her quest to save her infant son who was born with his heart outside his body. Holman excellently captures the superstitions of the times as the cholera epidemic affects the people of the town. She really delves into the depressing conditions during that time period and the inhumanities of man. Overall, an excellent read!
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I really liked this book. Parts of it were really heartbreaking.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 83 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I loved this book. Definitely grim and "gritty" but great historical and medical fiction.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I am very interested in the time it took place, 1831 during the cholera epidemic, so I found it very interesting and historically accurate as well as having well developed characters. It's not the happiest or cleanest time in history, but worth reading.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 166 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Historical fiction; "quite Dickensian" but with an edgier, gritty feel.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 149 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Very original plot with lots of historical detail. Very vivid and unusual characters. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered another Sherri Holman book.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Well written historical fiction of cholera stricken England circa 1832.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 151 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Really fascinating, well written historical novel. Not terribly romantic, however.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
A breathtaking novel, lush, rich, and sumptuous. Holman takes you into the life of one who lives and breathes the streets of England during a tumultuous time, where disease and death lie in wait just around the corner.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Lovely writing. Historical fiction.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 112 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Great story during the chlorea epideic of the 19th century. Very rich discriptions/characters of the times.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Excellent both historically and creatively.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 129 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I could not wrap my head around this book. The writing was just strange. It was like the author was trying to put me into the story. It was written in the present tense which I found to just be annoying. I couldn't concentrate on the story because of it.

Too annoying to continue with it. It wasn't worth it. one and 1/2 stars.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Fairly good book about cholera in victorian England. How it affects the wealthy, working class, & poor. In between this mess is a Dr. Henry Chiver , a surgeon, a teacher, & a grave robber.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 163 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Wow, what a ride. A ride that did not go well for the riders.

Don't pick this one up if you need a Dickensian happy ending where money and a charitable spirit cures cholera.

But do pick this one up. Great read. Get over your whole Dickensian 'everything turns into magical happy pancakes' mindset.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book had a lot of potential for me to love it, or at least really enjoy it. It's a historical novel, one of my favorite genres. It has a unique topic: while most novels written about the period would romanticize the upper class, this one focuses on the plight of the poor, which I appreciated, and it also brings in disease (cholera) and the conflicts between the classes, so there's a bit of education there, too. However, the narrator(s?) drove me nuts. They were annoying and didn't add anything of value to the story. They brought the book from a possible 4.5 for me to 2.5 stars.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really enjoyed this book. Such a stark contrast between the poor mother's earnest devotion to her son and the way the rich doctor and his fiancee treat them as less than human- even when being "charitable". You can really FEEL like you're in the setting- the images are evocative and the characters deeply compelling. I cried along with the mother in the story!
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A Dress Lodger is a new term for the worlds oldest occupation invented by an enterprising and cruel landlord. Gustine, a poor young girl living in Sunderland, England in 1831 strikes a deal with her landlord. He gives her an exquisite blue dress to attract a better class of clientele as she walks the streets at night for her second job. In return, she shares her income and is provided a miserable, windowless roof over her head for herself and her baby. The descriptions of the living conditions of 19th century Englands underprivileged are so clear you can see and hear the poverty, hopelessness and fear of the working people in Sunderland who are barely able to eke out a living and are now facing a cholera epidemic. The narrative is told in second person and the narrator talks directly to you the reader occasionally. Sometimes I enjoyed this approach; other times I couldnt readily determine who was talking.

Gustine works hard to care for her baby who was born with some medical issues and she believes she finds the answers to her prayers when she meets a doctor and surgeon at her local pub. She gets involved in helping the doctor procure dead bodies so he can dissect them and learn how to treat cholera and other diseases. Her involvement with the doctor brings her into conflict with the superstitious fears of the uneducated and frightened poor who do not appreciate becoming science experiments upon their demise. This account of poverty and cholera is not a happy tale; however there is enough suspense to keep you engaged in the story.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 134 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book about Cholera in England. Very Engaging.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 107 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Definitely a "dark" book, very weird but compelling.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 900 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Wasn't sure I would like this read when I first began but I usually persevere to the very end and in this case I'm glad that I did. As I became acquainted with Gustine, the young prostitute heroine of this story, I found myself wondering what it would be like to live as she did. Working in a pottery factory by day and roaming the streets by night, she earned enough to exist, just barely. The other key character is Dr. Chivers who is so involved with his career that he loses his sensitivity to others including Gustine and the people of the community whose understanding of medicine and the study of it is fraught with fear and distrust. This is an interesting read with several twists that kept me turning the pages. When I finished I researched cholera to learn more about the disease that was ravaging the people of this community. Worth reading? I think so.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 65 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This introduced me to a world I had never known.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I liked it. An easy read. You'll be thinking of the characters when you're not reading.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 384 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
this si one of my favorite genre's,but for some reason i just could not get into this book. it has all the features of a book i would love...the plague...historical fiction...dark dingy England...this one was not for me.
it is proclaimed to be a great novel and several of my friends loved it...but...maybe i just was not in the mood for this...you know how that is???LOL enjoy it!
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 20 more book reviews
Could not get passed the first few pages. I did not like the narration at all.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 982 more book reviews
"A riveting read...literate, witty, intelligent, thoughtful." -Kate Atkinson

This book was fantastic and tragic.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 22 more book reviews
Beautifully written, captivating characters, a book that takes a lot of concentration to read, but well worth the effort.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 88 more book reviews
Absolutly one of the best books I have ever read, just read the publishers review!
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 83 more book reviews
I loved this gritty, dark historical fiction. I found it to be much better than "The Crimson Petal and the White" or "Slammerkin."
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 17 more book reviews
Historical novel with just an ok storyline.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 18 more book reviews
Very good read - a bit dark but well written
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 8 more book reviews
"The Dress Lodger" is a book that will keep the reader
interested and engaged. It is graphic in its description
of the squalid conditions the poor of London must live under, but is well-researched, and is accurate in its details..... harkening back to Dickens descriptions of the poverty that pervaded the crowded cities of 1800's England. While this story is probably not for the squeamish reader, or the faint of heart......others will find it well-written and riveting.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 141 more book reviews
A real eye-opener as to the conditions in the l800's of Charles Dickens. Interesting, but disgusting! This is about the constant search for bodies for doctors to autopsy to further the study of medicine.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 309 more book reviews
Loved it. I really enjoyed the 2nd person style of writing, like I was being let I on the behind the scenes stuff. This is a complicated story about an orphan girl who becomes a prostitute and has a baby with its heart born outside its chest. It is also the story of emerging medicine and mostly the cholera epidemic as it spread around the world. The characters are very well developed and you soon learn that the value of a poor man's life, and body, don't compare to a rich one's. The filth and ignorance are abhorrent but you really feel the environment and how it affects these people. A great read. I want a movie where Johnny Depp, or better yet, Robert Downey Jr. plays the young doctor.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 29 more book reviews
This is an interesting book. I found it very gloomy and a pretty accurate picture of street life in the lower class of 1830 London. Debates the ethics of grave robbing and has some unique characters. If you are bothered by the harsher elements of life during this time, you may want to chose another book. If you're fascinated though, this is a good read. It's hard to remember just how different and difficult life was before the industrial age, but this book will remind you of how grateful we should be for our modern enviroment.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 5 more book reviews
Set in 1831 Sunderland during the cholera epidemic, Holman's book plays with the conventions of the 19th century British novel. With a resourceful prostitute heroine and the vivid historical detail of The Crimson Petal and the White, a 'modern' man possessed of complicated or questionable morality as in The French Lieutenant's Woman, and a sprawling cast of characters a la Dickens, The Dress Lodger meditates on prostitution, pestilence, and class warfare in an unusual narrative. Though wrapped in period-specific details (maybe more details than you ever wanted to know about potteries), many of the situations Holman writes echo in the present: the economic uses to which the body is put; the status of medicine and the methods and motives of its arbiters; and the difficulty of creating alliances and bridging the gap between classes.

Guided by an mysterious (or irritating, depending on the reader) plural narrator, readers are swept around the city experiencing its sights, sounds, and smells. Gustine, a teenage potter's assistant by day and a dress lodger (prostitute in a fashionable rented gown) by night, works to keep her baby well-fed and comfortable. She assists Dr. Henry Chiver in procuring cadavers to study; the young doctor is obsessed with anatomy and dissection but is under a cloud for his connection to the murderers-cum-cadaver-providers Burke and Hare. As the paths of paupers and the privileged, humans and animals, and the living and the dead intersect, the fear, anger, and illness stalking Sunderland reach a boiling point.

It should be a fascinating book and I certainly enjoyed it but I didn't come to be particuarly emotionally invested in the characters and their lives. The upsetting events that befall the characters didn't have a big impact on me. But if historical fiction is your cup of tea, this is a diverting read.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 3 more book reviews
Set in 1831 in England is a wonderful look into that time period. The city is quarantined by cholera and a 15-yr old survives by being a potter's assistant by day and a dress lodger at night for necessity to feed her baby boy. "Holman breathes life into the teeming streets of a distant world." New York Times Book Review
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 102 more book reviews
I love these period novels. This was really good, a bit depressing, but a great story.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 62 more book reviews
If you love historical thrillers AND public-health type issues, this book is for you. This is such an excellent story with so much tragedy. I don't know what else to say other than if you enjoy stories written about England in the 1800s you'll enjoy this for sure.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 35 more book reviews
A remarkable and fascinating book. I couldn't put it down.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on
This is a book I normally may not have picked up to read in a bookstore but I am so glad I did read it. I thought this was an excellent book. The characters are so gritty which makes them all the more intersting.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 8 more book reviews
Very thought-provoking as well a delicious!
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 1261 more book reviews
A really interesting read, you will fall into the lives of the characters and find yourself rooting for one and then the other. Rich in details of the everyday lives of the less fortunate. You will be amazed at the moral twists that take place and how the people do what is needed to survive and live to just have a moment of happiness. Dealing with Cholera,poverty,body stealing, and just the harshness of the lives they are living. Excellent HF with lots of true facts surrounding the Cholera epidemic. A excellent read.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 123 more book reviews
very depressing story
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 16 more book reviews
I just didn't like the way the author wrote, in 3rd person at times couldn't finish the book which is VERY unusual for me.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 309 more book reviews
Very interesting, though dark.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 71 more book reviews
Recreates this English city in 1831 beautifully.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 162 more book reviews
Good book.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 78 more book reviews
In Sunderland, England, a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of 1831, a defiant, fifteen-teen-year old beauty in an elegant blue dress makes her way between shadow and lamp light. A potter's assistant by day and dress lodger by night, Gustine sells herself for necessity in a rented gown, scrimping to feed and protect her only love: her fragile baby boy. She holds a glimmer of hope after meeting Dr. Henry Chiver, a prisoner of his own dark past. But in a world where suspicion of medicine runs rampant like a fever, these two lost souls will become irrevocably linked, as each crosses lines between rich and destitute, decorum and abandon, damnation and salvation. By turns tender and horrifying, The Dress Lodger is a captivating historical thriller charged with a distinctly modern voice...
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 64 more book reviews
My copy has a different ISBN # but the system refused to take it any other way. Has the same cover, paperback, A-1 condition, Atlantic Monthly Press, 291 pages. If you like gritty, historical novels, this is for you. It is about the cholera epidemic in England circa 1830.
reviewed The Dress Lodger on + 70 more book reviews
this is an advanced copy I bought at a library sale.