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The Turning Point by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
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The Turning Point

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The Turning Point by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
Mar 01, 2022 | ISBN 9780525655947

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“Douglas-Fairhurst’s… immersive book echoes the experimental form of the novel, blending stories, sub-plots and telling details to bring to life a complex moment in the life of a city and one of its greatest writers.” Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

“It’s amazing how eruditely Robert Douglas-Fairhurst manages to illuminate our history through a microscopic focus on one brief period. The Turning Point transports us to 1851. The book’s principal subjects are Charles Dickens as he embarks on Bleak House, and the Crystal Palace, first assembled in all its sparkling glory for that year’s Great Exhibition.”  Alan Johnson, New Statesman
“Robert Douglas-Fairhurst pulls off an extraordinary trick of immersive history, taking a single year in Charles Dickens’s life, 1851, and placing the personal story of one of the most extraordinary writers ever to have lived within his social and cultural context.”  Lucasta Miller, Spectator

“Clever and witty, packed with fiercely academic research and erudite analysis, but written in featherlight, elegant prose.” Natalie Haynes, national best selling author of A Thousand Ships
“Douglas-Fairhurst is a shrewd, amusing and original guide. . . . [he] gives you fascinating facts . . . [and] a brisk and brilliant analysis of Bleak House.” Laura Freeman, The Times
The Turning Point . . . builds incrementally towards Bleak House . . . [and] makes for a very satisfying finale. A manuscript page of the novel, dense with crossings-out of emendations, is reproduced as evidence of Dickens’s painstaking process of creation. Robert Douglas-Fairhurst has taken pains of his own and this wonderfully entertaining book is the result.” —Observer
“This tremendous book dazzles and delights . . . it’s full of discoveries. A glorious book; revealing and unravelling Charles Dickens before our very eyes, melding his life and his work, using scholarship, wit and passion—a triumph.” Miriam Margolyes, BAFTA award-winning actress 
“Sparklingly informative.” —The Guardian
“[The Turning Point] lingers on details and in doing so illuminates a very specific period of Dickens’s life. . . . The book is a fascinating biography that ultimately brings fresh insight to the life of Charles Dickens and his work as a novelist.” —The Spectator
“Like Shapiro, Douglas-Fairhurst explores a form of biography in which the life is not a discrete entity but deeply embedded in its dizzying, granular context. When that life is that of such an extraordinary individual as Dickens—whose mercurial energy made him such a complex actor in and commentator on those times—this approach is more than apt. . . . Douglas-Fairhurst uses a fascinating range of interconnected sources, side-plots and telling details to dramatize the complex social and imaginative web out of which it came. At the end, he offers no pat conclusion but a brilliant analysis of the famous opening of Bleak House, with its strange experimental syntax and portrayal of London in the fog. The jaunty subtitle of Douglas-Fairhurst’s book—A year that changed Dickens and the world—does not quite do justice to the sophistication and subtlety of his technique. He gives us history not as grand narrative or teleology but as total immersion and multiplicity. As such, he invites us to feel what it felt like to be Dickens in 1851.” —Financial Times

“In The Turning Point, Douglas-Fairhurst sees the events of 1851 as the “central hinge” in Dickens’s life. . . . Douglas-Fairhurst calls his new book a “slow biography”. Instead of speeding through his subject’s life from birth to death, like the manic flickering of a silent film, he stops the clock at a single frame. . . . Douglas-Fairhurst’s research is impeccable, and The Turning Point is interwoven with many curious facts and people.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Fascinating. . . . The book is full of nuggets. . . . Although the author focuses on just one year of the writer’s life, Charles Dickens comes over as a deeply complex character: warm, generous and compassionate yet also overbearing, pompous and selfish. . . . A splendidly enjoyable book.” —Daily Mail (UK)

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