Two of Dicken's novels are republished. The first follows a group from the tranquil roads of London to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror. The second follows the life of the orphaned Pip from the wild Kent marshes through a series of events as he abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman.
By Charles Dickens
Overall Score: 7 out of 10
I took me a while, but I did enjoy this book. I found that I had to sit quietly and focus to read it, I am used to reading in a far more sloppy way…while watching TV, while supervising the kids, with half a brain,
I had a preconceived notion that I would immediately love Dickens, this certainly was not the case. It took me a while to get to know & warm up to the characters.
Lucie: I wish I could say that I liked her better, but I found her to be entirely two-dimensional, while I did have sympathy for her when Charles Darnay was imprisoned, I found her to be somewhat “milk-toast” and lacking in spirit. Endurance was her best feature and her care-taking of her father, which developed respect for her from me.
Miss Pross: She was a rock, at once sympathetic, but tough and practical I had endless respect for her and really wanted to see her have a happier ending (getting her married to some eligible older bachelor was something I hoped for!). However, the scene where she and the French woman (name?!) confronted each other was AWESOME! Really my favourite scene in the whole book.
Dr Manette: Very interesting, deeply developed. Just to consider the phases of his life, as a young man in Paris with wife and child, caught up in the rape/murder scene as an unwilling participant, imprisoned for years and then released into a garret, of the wine merchants, making shoes for years before being rescued to then go on to the next content phase of his life in London with his family (Recalled to Life!).
I thought it was fascinating to see how he relapsed in London when his daughter married Darnay and how Mr Lorry discretely & delicately picked his brains & restored his health without humiliating him or horrifying his (poor delicate) daughter. Then back to Paris to be helpful to his son-in-law and indispensable to his daughter. It was crushing to see the final phase of his story unravel to see his part in Charles Darnay’s condemnation.
Mr Lorry: Another rock, without whom none of the story would have been possible. He was the Father that Lucie never had and a Protector for all of them.
Charles Darney: A young man, who happened to have noble blood who actually had a noble heart and did his best not to exploit anyone, but ended up condemned for the “sins of his forefathers”.
Sydney Carton: A man whose conduct was undistinguished until he finally had a brainwave of how to redeem himself and rescue all those around him, he did then elevate himself from a life of mediocrity. Actually, his final transformation, with the peasant girl was SO transformed it became a little unrealistic to me.
The French Peasants: well-depicted and an interesting insight into the evolution of the revolution.
In conclusion, the French Revolution is something I really didn’t know much about, but I was inspired to research, especially “The storming of the Basille”, as it was such a fabled and pivotal episode in the revolution. The story was very cleverly woven into this true historical backdrop and made it much more engaging to me than it would otherwise have been.
I also have to say that it was immensely satisfying to finish the book, and to finally know where two of the most famous quotations EVER come from, in context : “It was the best of times, it was the worst if times,” and “It is a far, far better thing that I do now, than I have ever done.”
I got Great Expectations at the same time that I got this and I’m glad that I did, although I’ll need a break with some lighter reading before I return to Dickens.