Catherine was Charles Dickens’ wife whom he separated from after twenty-two years of marriage and ten children. Enamored of a young actress, Charles scripted a fiction about his marriage in which he was the long suffering husband to a woman who was unfit to be wife and mother. He spread this story through his powerful editor friends.
Catherine did not, could not, fight him. Even the law gave custody of minor children to fathers, and all her children, except one, were minor. She retreated into dignified silence which seems baffling today. But the strength of her agony is exhibited in her words to her daughter, to whom she gave letters written to her by Charles, and told her to give them to the British Museum, “so that the world may know he loved me once.”
“The book was based on well-researched facts and documents, some of which found their way into the book. The author was able to construct a believable fictionalized version of Catherine’s life.”
“When I first picked up this book, I genuinely didn’t understand why Catherine would have remained so quiet about the downfall of her marriage while she was alive. Her character development in this tale was so thorough, though, that her refusal to defend herself soon made sense to me. What I appreciated the most about it was how intricately Ms. Datta wove these revelations into the plot. They showed up exactly when they were needed, but they were introduced so seamlessly that I didn’t notice what the author was doing until much later on in the story. Bravo!”
Author note: At the onset, I will say I did not expect to write this book. I write for adults and for children, and though I have never confined myself to a single genre, I was never inclined towards writing Historical Fiction / Biographical Fiction. This changed when I chanced upon an article about how Charles Dickens had treated his wife and children. Catherine’s story preyed on my mind for a long time, and finally I gave her a voice in Outside the Magic Circle.