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May 22, 2009


R Lapides

Within weeks of their first meeting, Dickens knew he had the upper hand in his relationship with Catherine. This imbalance of power never changed and is what doomed their relationship, for he could be engaged only when he had a healthy challenge. It's true he was extremely controlling, as Arnold stresses, but he wasn't with Ellen Ternan, or with his close friends, or with his art. This new novel ignores the basic fact of the Dickenses' marriage, it seems to me. It was companionable, but it was never exciting for him, except when their love was new and then when they had their first children. It was his fault at least as much as hers, but both were too young and vulnerable when they got married to aim at something better than safety.

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