Sheri Holman - The Dress Lodger - Hodder & Stoughton

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The Dress Lodger

By Sheri Holman

  • Paperback
  • £6.99

A Dickensian tour de force set in a 19th century city beset by a cholera epidemic.

Sunderland during the cholera epidemic of 1832 is bitterly divided between the rich, who believe they have nothing to fear from a disease which afflicts mainly the poor, and the disenfranchised, who fear cholera is part of a plot to exterminate them. Through the streets of the city walks Gustine, a prostitute, followed by the Eye, an old woman paid by her pimp to keep Gustine under constant surveillance. Gustine has joined forces with a surgeon forced out of Edinburgh in the wake of the Burke & Hare body-snatching scandal. Henry operates an Anatomy School but has no bodies with which to teach; Gustine, moving among the week and dying, comes across bodies all the time. He believes she can help him advance medical science, and she believes if he becomes a better doctor, he can save the life of her critically ill baby.

Biographical Notes

Sheri Holman grew up in rural Virginia and worked for a literary agent while writing her first novel, A STOLEN TONGUE, a mystery set along the route of a fifteenth-century religious pilgrimage. She is in her late twenties and is now a full-time writer.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780340717844
  • Publication date: 17 Aug 2000
  • Page count: 320
  • Imprint: Sceptre
'Sheri Holman vividly and convincingly conjures a fully-textured fictive past peopled with strange and true characters' - Charles Frazier
Sheri Holman vividly and convincingly conjures a fully-textured fictive past peopled with strange and true characters — Charles Frazier
'A Southern Gothic imagination applied to graveyard horrors in the anatomy schools of nineteenth century England in the grip of the worst cholera epidemic in history. Sheri Holman writes with extraordinary assurance and style' - Miranda Seymour
I found it a riveting read, thoroughly enjoyable. From the first page I felt confident that I was in the hands of a real writer with an individual voice - literate, witty, intelligent, thoughtful — Kate Atkinson
'Quite Dickensian, in the best sense . . . the vigour of the style - tremendous, confident pace (I always like a novel where one know the writer is tightly in charge of the reins) is matched by a knowledge of the period and its concerns which seems to come from within. By half way I was quite enthralled . . . This is one of those historical novels which as a passionate, angry feel to it, making it more than entertainment (though it is certainly entertaining.) It bothers to get right not just the detail of clothes/food/place but the tempo of the times - that is a very difficult thing to pull off' - Margaret Forster
A page-turning scenario of body-snatching and broken promises . . . The novel's period detail is as terrifying as any more fanciful flights. Holman is a confident writer with a high-voltage imagination — Independent
Impressive and crackling authenticity . . . The smells, sounds and hideous sights of the time and place are convincingly reproduced with confidence and literary poise — The Times
'I found it a riveting read, thoroughly enjoyable. From the first page I felt confident that I was in the hands of a real writer with an individual voice - literate, witty, intelligent, thoughtful - I still don't understand how she grew up in " rural Virginia" and wrote this book' - Kate Atkinson
'As with all the best fictional history, Sheri Holman's atmospheric, miasmic tale of cholera-struck Sunderland in 1831 is based on fact . . . With mordant Dickensian wit and Elizabeth Gaskell's deft touch for gutsy outcast women seizing control of their destiny, Holman carves out a richly imaginative adventure as incisive and gruesomely fascinating as a 19th-century operating theatre' Amazon UK
Sheri Holman's prose, tart, racy and sombre, will sing in your soul a long while — Frank McCourt
'Lurid and fascinating second novel . . . An atmospheric tale that may have readers gasping for air. Another stunner from a gifted and versatile new master of historical fiction' Kirkus Reviews
It shows a confidence and sophistication expected from a more mature, experienced writer, with a real feel for detail — The Herald - Glasgow
Atmospheric and sometimes chilling yarn — MS London
'A page-turning scenario of body-snatching and broken promises . . . The novel's period detail is as terrifying as any more fanciful flights. Holman is a confident writer with a high-voltage imagination' Independent
'An entertainingly atmospheric yet careful historical account. It shows a confidence and sophistication expected from a more mature, experienced writer, with a real feel for detail . . . Genuinely entertaining, too - Holman knows when to shine light in the right places, so that in spite of the brutality and the dirt, the inner lives of the characters get a chance to breathe' Glasgow Herald
A writer with high voltage imagination
'Impressive and crackling authenticity . . . The smells, sounds and hideous sights of the time and place are convincingly reproduced with confidence and literary poise' - The Times
A remarkable literary achievement... Her historical detail is breathtaking — Sunderland Echo
'A true Gothic nightmare tale' Cosmopolitan
'A book which blurs the edges between fact and fiction, seamlessly blending historical figures with fictional characters and creating some controversy in the process . . . An absorbing and thought-provoking novel. You will find its almost palpable images, evoked with extraordinary clarity by the writer, stay with you long after you have finished it' Time Out
'Scrawny and tough, only 15, Gustine is the heartrending protagonist of Holman's brilliantly stark portrayal of 19th-century urban life, class warfare, cruel medicine and encroaching pestilence in the English city of Sunderland. With remarkable breadth and depth, the narrative vividly portrays the human suffering spawned by the early Industrial Revolution . . . .Holman delivers a wealth of morbid, authentic detail . . . [her] style is risky and direct, treating scenes . . . With unflinching emotional precision. This dazzlingly researched epic is an uncommon read' Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
'One of the most imaginative and beautifully written books of recent months is Sheri Holman's wonderfully evocative story The Dress Lodger. . . atmospheric and sometimes chilling yarn' Ms London
'Holman's febrile characters and clammy prose cast a ghoulish spell' The Times
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