The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman
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 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.
This tale is masterfully told, with a clear, tender voice like no other. The dismal, disease-ridden streets, graveyards, and hovels of Sunderland will take shape around you. Holman’s prose is poetic yet disturbing, fleshing out the raw truth of 1831 Sunderland.
Holman doesn’t dance around the subjects of dress lodging, dissection, disease, and grave robbing, but rather plunges into their heart with a blunt voice. The heroine, young Gustine, will capture your interest and your heart. The wide, vivid cast of characters in The Dress Lodger riot from the pages; Holman gives the reader reason to pity, loathe, and love them by turns.
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As Simple as Snow