The Dress Lodger

The Dress Lodger In Sunderland England a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of a defiant fifteen year old beauty in an elegant blue dress makes her way between shadow and lamp light A potter s assistant

In Sunderland, England, a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of 1831, a defiant, fifteen 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 glimmeIn Sunderland, England, a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of 1831, a defiant, fifteen 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

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The Dress Lodger

  1. Sheri Holman graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1988, mastering in Theatre From there, she became an assistant to a literary agent In that time, she began to write her first novel, A Stolen Tongue It was published in 1996 She then went on to write The Dress Lodger, which was published in 1999 Sheri Holman also wrote Sondok, Princess of the Moon and Stars, which was published in 2002 and Mammoth Cheese, which published in 2003 Sheri Holman now lives in Brooklyn, New York with her family.

294 Reply to “The Dress Lodger”

  1. Once upon a time, I don t remember what prompted me to do soa review I read somewhere, a synopsis of the book, perhaps both of these or neither I put The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman on my TBR wish list And there it sat until I came across a nice, gently used copy at my local library s used book shop I promptly brought it home and put it on the physical TBR pile s gracing my back bedroom Then, this week I found myself at loose ends I ve finished all my formal book challenges for 2010 It s not ye [...]

  2. This was a February book club assignment, from one of our members who loves well written historical fiction As far as I m concerned, she gave us a real winner this time Pitting poor against rich in a quarantined town during the 1833 cholera epidemic, we learn that some diseases don t give a damn how high born or wealthy you are Also at issue are the doctors and researchers who employ grave robbers resurrectionists to provide dead bodies for students to learn anatomy Mix this all together with a [...]

  3. I read the first half of this book in a tremendous rush, totally engrossed by the story and both horrified and fascinated by Holman s depiction of the cholera epidemic of 1831 I m not sure exactly what happened in the second half of the book, but somehow the spell was broken Holman inconsistently employs a fair amount of narrative trickery that didn t seem to add much to the book, and the lack of subtlety became frustrating after a while I ve recently read several books set in the drawing rooms [...]

  4. Turn the pages of The Dress Lodger and you re turning the dial on a time machine Destination England, 1831.Sheri Holman s novel is one of those rare pieces of historical fiction which thrust you so completely into another time, another place, that the modern world with all its bright, sparkly conveniences melts away Welcome to the Industrial Revolution, dear reader You ll feel the mud, you ll smell the rotting wharf life, you ll taste the bitter cholera on your tongue You ll also want to shower [...]

  5. So far I love the unique voice this book is told in VERY original narration What fun I finished this book today I loved it It does remind me of Dickens and his dark view of society The cholera epidemic makes for a bit of a downer I wish I could study this book with a class I know there are a ton of metaphors and great comparisons within the story that would be fun to delve deeper into with a group If it weren t for the prostitution story line I would think it would be great for classroom study B [...]

  6. A very strong 3.5 stars, which I m rounding up to 4 because I enjoyed it than other recent books I ve given 3 stars to damnit GR, give us stars or of them to play with.The Dress Lodger takes place in 1831 in Sunderland, an industrializing seaport on the northeast coast of England, as cholera gains its first foothold in the kingdom It s a decidedly grim novel, uncompromising in showing the desperate and dehumanizing poverty of the city s denizens, and the callow and callous indifference of the [...]

  7. I ve recently embarked on a historical novel kick a satisfying read with the added bonus of learning a little chunk of history, what could be better I came across Sheri Holman s novel on the paperback favorites table when I was browsing in a local bookstore It looked intriguing, so I thought that I d give it a try The book is about a 19th century cholera epidemic in an English town, and features Gustine, a poor girl with a very ill child who works as a potter s assistant by day and a prostitute [...]

  8. The best part of this strange little book is the writing I see that some readers are annoyed by the second person present point of view and the dear reader business, but I was charmed by the quirky narration The prose is rich and atmospheric the story is a gripping melodrama, certainly over the top in places, but crammed with fascinating historical details which will make you glad not to have been born poor 200 years ago.The setting is northern England in 1831, just as the cholera morbus enters [...]

  9. There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets Charles Dickens, Nicholas NicklebyI can t decide if this is a 3 or 4 star novel The Dress Lodger was very effective in drawing the reader into the 19th century But it wa [...]

  10. Absolutely brilliant So utterly and absolutely brilliant Historical fiction like this is so very, very hard to come by One of the best modern books I ve really enjoyed in a long time I read this in two sittings, the first one of eight hours where I could not put it down One of those books that I set down after finishing and had to catch my breath and let everything sink in One of those books where all the threads tie together at the end and you just marvel at her narrative skill Nothing is waste [...]

  11. This is very good, but don t read it when you re feeling down I love historical fiction, especially set in 19th century England This book is beautifully detailed and tells it like it really was in Victorian England for the lower classes Relentless poverty, filth and squalor, illness It s all here and could be a quite a downer but for the exceptional writing and the exceptionally hopeful heroine It s educational and such an eye opener, especially for the reader of historical fiction mostly about [...]

  12. I adored this book, but couldn t get beyond the first few pages until the second try, over a year later It sat on my bookshelf until I had absolutely nothing else to read in my house, and in desperation I decided to go ahead and start it again until I could get to the library or bookstore Two days later, I gave it a 5 star rating here Not too bad for a book I thought I d be hatingThe story is dark and gruesome, but the writing is so enveloping and pert that I didn t feel as if I was reading some [...]

  13. This summer I m working through books handed to me throughout the year by those I love with their breathless assurances that this is the best book EVER My friends are many wonderful things but hardcore readers they are not So when they hand me a book I m relatively certain it is one of maybe two they ve read in the past year Books selected in the airport on the obligatory trip home to visit the family As a desperation read, The Dress Lodger fares better than most Set in Sunderland, England the c [...]

  14. For lovers of historical thrillers, The Dress Lodger is the novel for you Bold, sassy, at times dark, sinister, and disturbing, it is the story of a young dress lodger a prostitute who solicits eager men while wearing a rented fancy gown owned by her landlord, who is also her pimp During the Cholera epidemic in 1831, young Gustine bravely endures the distresses that life has sent her way because she needs to support her sickly son She befriends Dr Henry Chiver, who has his own problems during th [...]

  15. I would probably also put this at 3.5 stars, but when forced to choose, I bumped it up instead of down It was a really interesting book, if confusing in certain parts.The Good Gustine was a kick ass heroine She could have had a depressing, pitiable, weak position, but she didn t She was a prostitute She worked two jobs She was dirt poor Her baby was on the edge of death And yetd yet, she feels no shame, she needs no pity or charity, she unsqueamishly views death and pain and deals with them She [...]

  16. I was drawn to this book by certain keywords in its description, such as cholera and grave robbing Sadly, the potential of the material was never fully reached it was just the backdrop fora poorly written piece of middle school level tripe.The narrative method is forced and overdone, too clearly a gimmick We walk down the street and see you, friend Will you tell us about our main character For in a story such as this, we must not trust ourselves, because blah blah blah Yawn Her reasoning behind [...]

  17. A poised, accomplished, and frequently touching historical novel about a poor part time prostitute and potters drudge who crosses paths with a high minded body snatching doctor while she s trying to eke out a precarious living in the north of England during a cholera epidemic Full of quasi Dickensian lowlifes with strange physical deformities, and practically reeking with atmosphere The author, who has read widely in Victorian literature, both fiction and nonfiction, has an authoritative grasp o [...]

  18. This is a novel that takes you in the heart of Victorian London The nightmarish prose, Dickensian and haunting at the same time, introduces Gustine, a very interesting character, and Dr Chiver who is controversial and fascinating At the heart of the story lies Medicine, and the well known practice of stealing the unfortunate dead bodies in order to perform autopsies There are echoes of the Burke Hare events and the coming of the plague that troubled Britain in 1831 claiming about 52,000 lives Am [...]

  19. I thought it was just ok I mean It was interesting to see how all of the characters interacted without anyone really knowing each other but other than that, boring It did not have what I wanted from the book at all I wanted late night hunting for corpses, running with the dirt still sticking to the coffins, excitement, chases, and just dead corpses Instead I got Henry, a boring character that had no substance to him that was haunted by ghosts of his past, but nothing really good or interesting a [...]

  20. As a neo Victorian novel, The Dress Lodger does a great job of immersing the reader in the world of a cholera infected English town Most of the characters are interesting and the dialog is engaging That said, I found the narrative voice particularly annoying and oftentimes distracting There were only one or two moments in the book where I was truly engaged and emotionally connected to the work Had I not been required to finish this book for a class, I probably wouldn t have made it past the firs [...]

  21. An interesting contrast to The Mammoth Cheese by Ms Holman I also liked the interview conducted by Mr Liss at the end of the book, where Sheri talks about the background and the writing.This is an odd book in almost every way The characters are gruesome and diverse Deformed, depraved, desperate The setting is squalid The plot is disturbing and confronting.And the narrative style is different The author makes some comments on this at the end, but for the first few pages at least it is a little un [...]

  22. This was probably a 2.5 star read for me The history was fascinating, and each character is believable I think I would have liked in the history department Burke and Hare, for example, are never really explained They are like bogey men who will come after you in the night I could, and did, piece together what they did, but would it have been so hard to tell me I think if this story had been explicit with the history, I would have liked it a lot better Though, it does give you the sense that y [...]

  23. This is a dark story of a prostitute and doctors set during the time of the cholera epidemic in the mid 1800 s The epigraph from Ambrose Bierce s Devil s Dictionary Grave A place where the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student sets the theme for this time period of the adversities of an early 19th century industrial city.The 15 year old protagonist, Gustine, is a potter s assistant by day, and prostitute by night An interesting vehicle to tell the story is a startling blue dre [...]

  24. _The Dress Lodger_ takes place in Ninteenth Century England The story revolves around a fifteen year old prostitute, Gustine, her baby, and old one eyed woman, and a medical doctor, who is forced to grave rob in order to study anatomy.Gustine has an unusual edge in her trade, her pimp and landlord owns a beautiful blue dress, that she wears on her nights in the streets in order to attract wealthier customers All of their money, from her night job as a prostitute, and her day job as a potter s as [...]

  25. I liked this book despite some of its faults It is about a dress lodger , Gustine, a prostitute who wears a fancy dress in order to attract a higher class of clientele She walks the streets at night, followed by a one eyed woman who is supposed to make sure she doesn t run off with the dress It is also about a doctor, Henry Chiver, who is trying to obtain corpses so he can teach anatomy All this takes place during the cholera epidemic of the 1830s in Sunderland, England These are the bare bones [...]

  26. The Dress Lodger is the kind of historical fiction that makes the reader get down on her hands and knees and kiss 21st century ground Especially if said reader is not a millionaire This is a tale of the Victorian poor, poignant and grim than even Dickens Holman touches on the fact that even if one was lucky enough to have a job that just barely kept you from starving, the job itself would probably kill you from phosphorus poisoning, from mercury poisoning, from lead poisoning, from dangerous ma [...]

  27. The Dress Lodger is a daring, spine tingling historical thriller set in England during the 1831 cholera scare Prostitution, anatomic research, the horror of street life, descriptions of corpses, and the gulf between poor and rich are graphically told Expecting to love this book, I soon discovered that I was both revolted by the honest but gruesome description and absolutely engaged with the writing style Personally, I found the content abhorrent, but measuring an author s craft is equally import [...]

  28. Sheri Holman s The Dress Lodger tells a story of desperation, hope, and superstition Gustine is a dress lodger a prostitute who rents an expensive dress from her landlord in order to claim a higher price She is followed by The Eye, a one eyed old woman, in order to prevent Gustine from running away with the dress She also has an infant son with a rare heart defect in need of medical attention Henry Chiver is a doctor and anatomy professor in desperate need of donor cadavers for his students He a [...]

  29. Wish I could say Shari Holman is a relation, but I m a Hollmann She d be a good one to have in the family I can imagine the gory talk around the Christmas table I ll give this a 4.5 Great, detailed research on everything from how the workers bathed to watching a rat fight Even the cover is perfect, the blue dress and sky highlit against black and white characters Blue is also how the cholera victims die Holman does a great job in describing why the people in 1831 England, in a port city believe [...]

  30. What a extraordinary book The reader is led through gory descriptions of dissections and grave robbery by an esteemed doctor who thought nothing of poor people Cholera morbus is raging through England in 1831 and the writer doesn t spare the queasy reader any of the horrid symptoms of the disease.A poor 14 year old girl, the dress lodger, is fighting for survival working in a pottery factory carrying wet clay on her head Covered in clay from head to foot at night she has to wash herself in the r [...]

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