The Dress Lodger

The Dress Lodger

Paperback - 2000
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The Dress Lodger , a cunning historical thriller charged with a distinctly modern voice, is the book that launched Sheri Holman into bestsellerdom. With over 300,000 copies sold and a consistent top "Reader's Circle" performer for Ballantine, it was superbly reviewed, chosen as a New York Times Notable Book, and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

In Sunderland, England, a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of 1831, Gustine, a defiant fifteen-year-old beauty in an elegant blue dress rented from her pimp-landlord, sells her body to feed her only love: a fragile baby boy. When she meets surgeon Henry Chiver, who has recently been implicated in the Burke and Hare killings, in which beggars were murdered so the corpses could be sold for medical research, Gustine begins working for him by securing cadavers for his ill-equipped anatomy school. It is a gruesome job that will soon threaten the very things she's working so hard to protect.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, 2000.
ISBN: 9780802144928
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 21 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 08, 2016

This was a Book Club kit for our group. They unanimously disliked it. Most did not finish this book finding it gruesome and disturbing.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 05, 2014

It is 1832 when an outbreak of cholera reaches England. In the riverside city of Sunderland, a teenage girl, a potter’s assistant by day, a prostitute by night, struggles to support herself and her baby. When a young doctor from London arrives in town their paths cross with dire consequences. Set in the time of the Reform Bill, with child labour and poverty confronting the working class, this heavily atmospheric novel is both gruesome and engaging.

Mar 16, 2012

Two characters, the young Gustine and the un-empathetic Dr. Henry Chiver, are separated by class and even by their aim of life. In this story they cross paths in ways that will tragically change them forever.

The descriptions in The Dress Lodger are thick with detail. The pacing is slow as a result, but that doesn't in the least take away from the urgency of the story. The central character, Gustine, lives during a time of nearly hopeless poverty. From the point of view of the lower class, you might confuse the time period as the Dark Ages and not pre-industrial England. This is how heartrendingly simple and limiting their lives are.

wendybird Nov 20, 2009

Holman is a worthy successor to Dickens, with respect to Victorian life's details : both pleasant, and..less than pleasant, things grand & down & dirty, too. Leave the new millenium behind for a while & let this fascinating & beautifully written novel draw you in from the very first line ("the boys down on the Low Quay know a hundred ways to sell bad fish". As Angela's Ashes author McCourt states, "Holman seduces you. Her prose, tart, racy, and sombre, will sing in your soul a long while."

Oct 15, 2008

A dark story with a powerful commentary on medicine, social classes and the mix of the two.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

SLPL owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top