After directing and starring in Coriolanus based on Shakespeare's Roman drama, Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, film adaptation of Claire Tomaline's book of the same name. The movie is due to release in 2013 and tells about the affair between the famous writer and the beautiful young actress Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones, Hysteria, Northanger Abbey).

Abi Morgan (Shame) has adapted Claire Tomalin‘s novel, which tells of the 13-year affair between Dickens and Nelly Ternan, a woman who was 27 years  the author’s junior. Tom Hollander (as the author Wilkie Collins) and Kristin Scott Thomas   (as Nelly's mother)  are also in  the cast.
Dickens was forty-five when he met Nelly (Ellen) Ternan, and she was only eighteen, slightly older than his daughter Katey. Dickens became passionately attached to her, but their relationship had to be kept secret from the general public. Victorian middle class pruderie wouldn't forgive Dickens such an immoral behaviour. Dickens himself would have condemned his behaviour in one of his novels. How will the movie deal with the affair?

Modern readers are less shocked by Dickens's having had a mistress than by his determination to keep everything secret, a determination which led even to cruelties towards his wife and children.According to Dickens his wife lacked his energy and intellect while Nelly Ternan, in contrast, was clever and charming, interested in literature, the theatre, politics. Dickens referred to Ternan as his "magic circle of one". The situation came to a head  in 1858 when Catherine, Dickens's wife, found and opened a packet delivered by a London jeweller which contained a gold bracelet meant for Nelly with a note written by her husband. The Dickenses separated that May 1858 after 22 years of marriage. 

Dickens named several of his female characters after Ternan, including Estella in Great Expectations, Bella in Our Mutual Friend and Helena Landless in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and other may have been inspired by her, particularly Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens left a legacy of £1,000 to Ellen Ternan in his will on his death in 1870, and sufficient income from a trust fund to ensure that she would never have to work again.

Official synopsis

Nelly, happily married and mother of children is tormented by her past. Her memories, brought about by her sense of guilt and regret,  lead the story back in time in order to explore her affair with Charles Dickens,  which was exciting and fragile at the same time. Dickens falls in love with her. The young woman comes from a family of actors and the theatre is crucial for both of them and for their relationship. Nelly becomes his muse, but the price they pay is a complex, very secret relationship for which the Nelly will be condemned to become an invisible woman. 


Vava, A country dreaming mum said...

I love Dickens and I will most certainly not miss this movie. Thanks!

Maria Grazia said...

I love Dickens's novels but, actually, I have never had much sympathy for the man behind them. He was a genius story-teller but... Let's see how Fiennes will portray him both as a director and as an actor.
As usual, thanks for visiting and commenting. I'd feel very lonely if it weren't for you! ;-)

Vava, A country dreaming mum said...

Yes well, when I said I love Dickens I meant I love his novels, I don't really know much about the man himself to be honest. He must have had a strong sense of humor, and I like that. But if the story of the young lover is true then I agree with you, he must have been rather an hypcrite, well suited to his time and age: do as I say, not as I do!
PS I like to pop here and comment because I like what you post :-)
PPS I might say the same thing about you coming to vist me on my little blog :-))