13 May 2020


Today I'm pleased to have you aboard on this my turn on the Charles Dickens My Life by Derwin Hope Book Tour. For all other participating blogs please see below.

ISBN 9781913340865
When Charles Dickens died prematurely on the 9th June 1870 aged only 58, he left behind a legacy unsurpassed in English fictional literature. But he also wanted to write his true life story and this remained undone. But he also wanted to write his true life story and this remained undone.
150 years on from his death, I have found that sufficient material has now been uncovered to enable that narrative of his life story to be produced for the first time. Research amongst 15,000 of his letters, journalistic articles, documents and other relevant material connected to him have all combined to make it possible for me to piece together that evidence and, guided by the way he wrote his two travel books, has resulted in the production of this personal story in his own words that he so desired to tell. It shows exactly how, from difficult beginnings, he descended into acute humiliation and abject poverty, before then emerging due to his talent and incredible resolve, into one of the most famous men and popular authors the world has ever known. It chronicles his enormous public triumphs and his profound private turmoils, as well as the secret life he led when, on his own admission, he became “seized with lunacy”. It includes his two momentous visits to America, and his withering and radical opinions of institutions and situations he found there, as well as those he encountered at home – all expressed in his own inimitable style. This is his compelling and personal narrative, put together for the first time in a way that he wished his legacy to be told. It is the real and true story of his life.
- Synopsis

Friday the 7th of February 1812 and I was born at Portsmouth, an English seaport town, principally remarkable for mud, Jews and sailors.
- First Sentence, Chapter 1: My Early Life

Back in Devonshire Terrace, my mind became truly focused on my task ahead, the tremendous process of plotting and contriving a new book. In the agonies of this I was accustomed to walk up and down the house smiting my forehead dejectedly; and to be so horribly cross and surly, causing the boldest to fly at my approach.
- Memorable Moment, Page 149

MY THOUGHTS ... I admit to not really being into autobiographies/biographies per se - I have to really like and/or want to know about that individual concerned and Charles Dickens ... Well! Charles Dickens has interested me ever since I watched a television documentary on his 'scandalous' love affair with Nelly. However, obviously way more to the man than this, just what I was about to find out ...

150 years after his death and some 15,000 of his letters, journalistic articles, documents and other relevant material connected to him later we have this Dicken's life story as he'd have wanted it told.

Whilst there was certain aspects of Dickens life well covered there were other aspects that I longed to know more about. Perhaps unsurprisingly so when I considered that no matter how well researched; no matter how close it might have been as to how Dickens himself would have told it, its author wasn't privy to Dickens actual thoughts and conversations and thus was reliant on these letters, articles and documents etc.

Then there was that a fair proportion of the book was given over to whole paragraphs that did little more than (A) chronicle that on such a such a date Dickens met up with so and so a person or (B) list the numbers attending such and such a reading. Now incredible as this might have been (My goodness! The people he met, the numbers that attended his readings; heck, the numbers that queued in anticipation of hearing one of his readings only to be turned away) I felt that, after a while, after the initial awe had worn off, these listings became, well, a tad repetitive.

On the whole though, what a life Dickens led, fascinating to read (though I'd suggest possibly more easily digestible read bit by bit rather than in one go - the chapter index at the beginning of the book makes it  easy to pinpoint various chapters in the author's life should you be wishing to read up on a particular aspect) ... and then, of course there are his books.

Cue my second confession - whilst I have read some  Dickens' I'm not a great fan (nothing personal I can assure you, I'm just not a big fan of the so called classics in general) and thus don't know his works well. How wonderful then to learn of just some of the people, places and events that inspired such books/characters as The Old Curiosity Shop and  Oliver Twist's Nancy; books that I haven't read but now feel inspire to do so ... and lets face it you don't get much better a recommendation than to come away from a book feeling thus.

SUMMED UP IN A SENTENCE ... To my mind at 536 pages it could have been shorter but hands down to  Derwin Hope in piecing together the life of one of  literature's best known authors. 

Title -  Charles Dickens: My Life
Author - Derwin Hope
GENRE - Non-Fiction
Publication Date - 5th May 
Page Count - 536
Publisher - Clink Street Publishing

AUTHOR INFORMATION ... Derwin Hope was born in Somerset in 1944 and attended local schools until 12. He then went to the Quaker boarding, Leighton Park in Reading, where he became Head Boy, as well as captaining the school at cricket and rugby and becoming athletics champion. He then attended the College of Estate Management, London University, where he obtained a Degree in Estate Management and played rugby for the College 1st XV before deciding to become a lawyer. He joined Middle Temple as his Inn of Court and qualified as a Barrister. Following pupillage, he became a member of Western Circuit Chambers at 3, Paper Buildings, Temple, London and their annex in Winchester and practiced in the Criminal Courts  in both London (including the Old Bailey) and throughout the West Country, dealing with every type of case from shoplifting to murder. He also appeared in Courts Marital Cases in Germany, as well as acting as a specialist lawyer in Town and Country Planning inquiries and legal appeals. He wrote the book "the 1990-91 Planning Acts" as the official book on the subject for the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In 1993 he became a Recorder - a part time judge alongside his job as a Barrister - and in 2002 became a full-time Circuit Judge. For 2 years he sat in Bolton, Greater Manchester, before being transferred to Portsmouth, the birth place of Charles Dickens. After 2 years he transferred to Southampton, where he sat as the Resident Judge (the most senior) for 8 years and was appointed the Honorary Recorder of Southampton by the city. He retired from the law in 2014 and from the Honorary Recordership  in 2020. He is married to Heidi, and they have one son, Matthew, and one daughter, Zoe.

Website - https://www.dickensmylife.com/


Monday 4th May ~ Belle and the novel

Tuesday 5th May ~ Big Book Little Book

Wednesday 6th May ~ The Page Turner's Book Blog 

Thursday 7th May ~ A Day Dreamer's Thoughts

Friday 8th May ~ Donna's Book Blog 

Sunday 10th May ~ Book Mark That 

Monday 11th May ~ Jazzy Book Reviews 

Tuesday 12th May ~ Kira L Curtis

Wednesday 13th May ~ Pen and Paper

Thursday 14th May ~ Turn the Page Blog

Friday 15th May ~ Novel Kicks

Saturday 16th May ~ Library of Books and Tea

Sunday 17th May ~ Book. Blog and Candle

My thanks to Faye of Authoright for organising the tour and making sure I had a copy of the book in plenty of time.

Image result for name felicity


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Felicity,

As much as I used to enjoy Dickens writing, although that was way back in my teenage years and I haven't read anything of his since then, I am not personally a reader of memoirs and this one does sound particularly heavy going.

There are plenty of the classics that I would really like to read, or re-read, however so many great new books keep crossing my desk, I just can't keep up with my wish list!

Thanks for sharing, but I think I'll pass, if that's okay with you?

Take Care :)


bermudaonion said...

I've enjoyed Dickens' books but know nothing about his life. This sounds interesting to me, even if it is a bit long.

Brian Joseph said...

Though it took me awhile to appreciate him, I have come to love Dickens. I always have a dilemma with author biographies. Reading these biographies means spending less time actually reading the books that the authors have created.

Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

I've read and enjoyed all of his works.. so the bits about what inspired and who would definitively grab me. Like you biographies and such are rare reads for me, I prefer video documentaries but I would certainly borrow this from the library.

Gina said...

I've always had a soft spot for Dickens...and the classic A CHRISTMAS CAROL is something I try to read every year. Thanks for sharing!

Kelly said...

I do like Dickens, but have only read a handful of his novels. (along with several of his short stories)

Good review, Felicity, but even so, I'm wavering a bit on this one. While I think knowing more about his life would be interesting, I'm not sure I'm ready to take on such an extensive, lengthy biography right now.

Suko said...

Felicity, thank you for your well-written review. I'd read this, but would need to clear out my schedule beforehand.

nightwingsraven said...

After reading your review, I am
truly uncertain if I would like
this biography. But thank you for
your for your excellent and nuanced

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I'd be interested in reading a condensed edition but, at the same time, I really appreciate your review! Thanks for sharing.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Hmm, lets try that again. My comment disappeared.
I appreciate your review so thanks for sharing. I'd love to read a condensed version of this book.

carol said...

I don't know that I care enough about Dickens to read this one. I've enjoyed the couple of books of his I've read, but this biography sounds really long.

sherry fundin said...

i've read some dickens and do like learning about authors
sherry @ fundinmental

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

I really enjoy autobiographies, but I'm not so keen on biographies (I'm not sure why!). Still, I'd like to learn more about Charles Dickens.

P.S. The images in this post aren't showing for me for some reason.

Romance Reader said...

Interesting about Dickens. Thanks for sharing!

Sophia Rose said...

I've only read or listened to a few of Dickens' novels, seen a few plays and movies, and watched a movie of his life, but I don't feel I know enough so I'd find this compilation that tells his story through his documents interesting.