Synopses & Reviews
With the delectable wit, unforgettable characters, and challenging themes that have won her a Pulitzer Prize and national bestseller status, Jane Smiley
naturally finds a kindred spirit in the author of classics such as Great Expectations
and A Christmas Carol
. As "his novels shaped his life as much as his life shaped his novels," Smiley's Charles Dickens
is at once a sensitive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life.
Smiley evokes Dickens as he might have seemed to his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic-and lionized. As she makes clear, Dickens not only led the action-packed life of a prolific writer, editor, and family man but, balancing the artistic and the commercial in his work, he also consciously sustained his status as one of the first modern "celebrities."
Charles Dickens offers brilliant interpretations of almost all the major works, an exploration of his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes, and a reflection on how his richly varied lower-class cameos sprang from an experience and passion more personal than his public knew. Smiley's own "demon narrative intelligence" (The Boston Globe) touches, too, on controversial details that include Dickens's obsession with money and squabbles with publishers, his unhappy marriage, and the rumors of an affair.
Here is a fresh look at the dazzling personality of a verbal magician and the fascinating times behind the classics we read in school and continue to enjoy today.
"Her intelligent biography examines Dickens' life through his work, starting not with his birth but rather the beginnings of his literary career....Those seeking a straightforward biography of Dickens will have to look elsewhere, but Smiley's superb and thoughtful analysis should appeal to anyone familiar with the great author's work." Booklist
"As a novelist, Smiley brings an interesting perspective to her analysis of how Dickens would have used his novel writing to explore his own personal issues. The result is not a biography or a work of literary criticism but rather a general reading of his novels and the events of his life." Library Journal
"Smiley is a writer who knows and loves her craft; her exploration of Dickens's writing process is clearly aimed at the lay reader and novel-writer alike....The account is a fast read, glazed with humor even at its most poignant." Kirkus Reviews
With delectable wit and unforgettable characters, "one of the premier novelists of her generation" ("The Washington Post") paints an exciting portrait of Charles Dickens, the 19th-century literary colossus.
For fans of the soon-to-be-released film about Charles Dickens starring Ralph Fiennes, a brilliantly insightful biography from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley
With delectable wit and characteristic sensitivity, Jane Smiley presents a fresh, illuminating take on the life of Charles Dickens. Smiley finds a kindred spirit in the author of such classics as Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, who was not only a prolific writer but also one of the first modern "celebrities." She offers interpretations of many of Dickens's major works, exploring his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes. A perceptive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life, this biography is perfect for fans of The Invisible Woman, the Charles Dickens biopic starring Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, and Kristin Scott Thomas, which hits theaters in February 2014.
About the Author
Jane Smiley's ten works of fiction include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Moo, A Thousand Acres (which won the Pulitzer Prize), and most recently the bestselling Horse Heaven.