PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)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. It is a useful strategy for approaching a writer whose life is by now well known, and who was exceptionally attuned to the cultural and political currents of the day. The articles Dickens selected for Household Words, which Douglas-Fairhurst reads astutely, creatively index what was going on in London that Exhibition year and how Dickens felt about it all (as well as how he wanted his readers to feel) ... Douglas-Fairhurst’s research is impeccable, and The Turning Point is interwoven with many curious facts and people ... Occasionally I felt lost, as one path veered into another ... Douglas-Fairhurst does not march in a straight line. Some readers, too, may ask if there were not more significant \'turning points\' in Dickens’s personal life (I nominate 1857). But no matter: this biography is less concerned with Dickens’s inner world than with the busy, changing world he lived in – the world he remade in his imagination, like no other novelist before or since.
PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)His method in each chapter is to define a specific feature and produce examples. Some readers will find that expedient, but Mullan is a brisk and observant writer. He is happy to be taken in by Dickens’s sorcery ... Mullan’s book could almost be an old-fashioned Appreciation: anyone who enjoys Dickens is invited to the magic show.