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.
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.
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.