It occurred to me that although I had been working my way through the classics, I had never read a “real version” of a Dickens novel. Oh sure, I had read the children’s version of “Oliver Twist” and have been to see the play of “A Christmas Carol” probably 15 times… but I had never actually sat down and tried to read any real Dickens. Now I don’t know if this is a good place to start or not… but this is where I started.
It took a while to really get into the book, the language was a bit overbearing at first, and the characters were a bit hard to keep sorted out in my mind. But then we get to the release of the good Doctor Mannette things pick up… I was trucking along, managing with the language and then in the middle I became bogged down with confusion… I struggled for a chapter or two and then hit the last quarter of the book… and let me tell you, all of the confusion was worth it if only for the last chapter.
Dickens main characters are actually rather flat and one-sided, however he makes up for it with the power and intrigue in his supporting cast. Some of the supporting characters in this novel are among the most interesting and either lovable or detestable that I have encountered. With the engrossing backdrop of the French Revolution, and heads being lopped of by Lady Guillotine every other moment… this book really focuses not on the revolution, but on the effects of the revolution on a select group of people. The Title implies that this will be a tale predominantly about London and Paris, but in reality the title is very misleading. The crux of the true story is about Paris, and our character’s attempts to remove themselves from it.
I hate to say more, I went into this book knowing nothing about it, and because of that I was able to be shocked and almost brought to tears by the beauty and power of the ending. I highly recommend it, even though many will struggle through the middle, know that the ending is well worth the struggle. There is a reason this is listed one of the “1001 books to read before you die” there is a power to this story that will resound with you long after you close the book.
A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics)