Charles Dickens attained an astounding level of popular acclaim during his lifetime; Victorian audiences clamored for his traditional Christmastime stories every year. The tale "A Message From... More > the Sea" is an example of one of Dickens' Christmas publications; although the nautical setting of the story is not what one would traditionally expect from a holiday publication, the themes of charity, good will, and rising above seemingly insurmountable odds are sure to spark a warm glow in readers' hearts any time of the year.< Less
Little Nell Trent looks after her grandfather in the gloomy Curiosity Shop, as their fortunes dwindle. To ensure Nell's future, her grandfather borrows money and attempts to gamble it into a larger... More > sum, but fails and loses the shop to Daniel Quilp, a vengeful and malicious man, who forces them to flee into the country.< Less
Written for publication as a serial, The Pickwick Papers is a sequence of loosely-related adventures. Its main literary value and appeal is formed by its numerous memorable characters. Each character... More > in The Pickwick Papers, as in many other Dickens novels, is drawn comically, often with exaggerated personalities.< Less
Charles Dickens wrote this book for his own children hoping to help them bye and bye, to read with interest larger and better books on the same subject. The history covers the period between 50 BC... More > and 1689, ending with a chapter summarizing events from then until the accession of Queen Victoria. The book is considered one of the finest English history texts.< Less
Considered the last of Dickens' picaresque novels, Martin Chuzzlewit was released to the public in monthly installments. Sales of the monthly parts were disappointing, so Dickens changed the plot to... More > send the title character to America. This satirical twist portrays America as a near wilderness, with pockets of civilization populated by deceptive, self-promoting hucksters.< Less
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
Explore nineteenth-century America through the pen of one of the most celebrated authors of all time, Charles Dickens. American Notes is a detailed travelogue of Dickens' 1842 tour of North America,... More > and in it, the author deploys his incisive wit and unparalleled gift for observation to convey his experiences traveling across the continent by steamship, coach, and rail. A rip-roaring read that will please Dickens fans and American history buffs alike.< 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
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
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