The classic opening line "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." is familiar to most everyone, but not everyone has braved Dickens' masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities. If you... More > haven't read it: the first part of the novel, while gorgeously written, has a slow-paced development of both plot and characters. But for the patient modern reader who gets to the second part there is the big payoff, which is a gorgeous climax with loads of riots and beheadings and such.
The Two Cities involved are Paris and London in the period leading up to, and during, the French Revolution - and featured are the French peasantry, who struggle under the brutal authority of the aristocracy. Dickens creates a rich tapestry of protagonists, primarily Charles Darnay, a French former-aristocrat who falls victim to the retribution of the revolutionaries despite being a good guy, and Sydney Carton, a drunk British lawyer who's in love with Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.< Less
Based around the Gordon riots of 1780 as seen through the eyes of the simple but good-hearted Barnaby Rudge. The fanatical anti-Catholic Lord George Gordon is treated with some sympathy in the novel,... More > which concludes with a panoramic description of the riots. One of two works that Dickens published in his short-lived weekly serial Master Humphrey's Clock, this was Dickens' first attempt at a historical novel.< Less
My dear Paul, it's very weak and silly of me, I know, to be so trembly and shaky from head to foot; but I am so very queer that I must ask you for a glass of wine and a morsel of that cake.'
Mr... More > Dombey promptly supplied her with these refreshments from a tray on the table.
'I shall not drink my love to you, Paul,' said Louisa: 'I shall drink to the little Dombey. Good gracious me!--it's the most astonishing thing I ever knew in all my days, he's such a perfect Dombey.'
Quenching this expression of opinion in a short hysterical laugh which terminated in tears, Louisa cast up her eyes, and emptied her glass.
'I know it's very weak and silly of me,' she repeated, 'to be so trembly and shaky from head to foot, and to allow my feelings so completely to get the better of me, but I cannot help it. I thought I should have fallen out of the staircase window as I came down from seeing dear Fanny, and that tiddy ickle sing.'< Less
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (which he never meant to publish on any account).
It adds to the charm of this... More > book to remember that it is virtually a picture of the author's own boyhood. It is an excellent picture of the life of a struggling English youth in the middle of the last century. The pictures of Canterbury and London are true pictures and through these pages walk one of Dickens' wonderful processions of characters, quaint and humorous, villainous and tragic. Nobody cares for Dickens heroines, least of all for Dora, but take it all in al,l this book is enjoyed by young people more than any other of the great novelist. After having read this you will wish to read Nicholas Nickleby for its mingling of pathos and humor, Martin Chuzzlewit for its pictures of American life as seen through English eyes, and Pickwick Papers for its crude but boisterous humor.< Less
Bleak House focuses on the unimaginably drawn out trial of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, a case presided over by the Court of Chancery, a body which deals in matters of trusts and guardianship of infants.... More > Characters have grown old, been born into, married into, and been divorced from various plaintiffs and defendants in the case, which has been dragged out so long as to consume sixty odd thousand pounds in court costs. The story is told partly from the perspective of novel's heroine, the strong and sensitive Esther Summerson, and partly from an omniscient third-person narrator. Follow Dickens's brilliant and sweeping narrative of the case over an orphan child, which consumes the minds and spirits everyone involved. Unforgettable characters include and the childish and imprudent Harold Skimpole, the friendly yet depressive John Jarndyce, Lady and Sir Dedlock, and the cold and indifferent lawyer Tulkinghorn, who represents the iron will of the law.< Less
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens follows the life of Pip, an orphan who is a semi-autobiographical representation of Dickens himself. The novel is considered a bildungsroman, or a coming of age... More > story, which follows a protagonist from childhood into maturity.
At the age of 7 Pip assists an escaped convict by stealing a pie for him to eat, some brandy to drink, and a file for him to cut off his shackles. The convict would eventually show his gratitude by granting Pip a sum of money made in far off Australia, which is meant for him to learn to lead the life of a gentleman. Through various deft Dickensian plot twists the boy squanders his money, and through the cursed fate of the convict his "great expectations" are snuffed out. Yet, in the manner of the coming of age novel, Pip finally ascends to manhood.< Less
There he was, standing before the fire, with good large eyes and an open expression of face; but still (I thought) requiring everybody to come at him by the prepared way he offered, and by... More > no other.
I noticed him ask my friend to introduce him to Mr. Sampson, and my friend did so. Mr. Slinkton was very happy to see me. Not too happy; there was no over-doing of the matter; happy in a thoroughly well-bred, perfectly unmeaning way.
'I thought you had met,' our host observed.
'No,' said Mr. Slinkton. 'I did look in at Mr. Sampson's office, on your recommendation; but I really did not feel justified in troubling Mr. Sampson himself, on a point in the everyday, routine of an ordinary clerk.'
I said I should have been glad to show him any attention on our friend's introduction.
'I am sure of that,' said he, 'and am much obliged. At another time, perhaps, I may be less delicate. Only, however, if I have real business; for I know, Mr. Sampson, how precious business time is...< Less
This lengthy burlesque novel centers around the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies. While some consider the book to be... More > among the finest works of 19th century comedy, Nicholas Nickleby is occasionally criticized for its lack of character development.< Less