Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Book: A Tale of Two Cites by Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic
For: The Classics Club and Classics Challenge
From: free ebook

The first time I read this book I was in 9th grade. Much of it went right over my head, but through class discussions and a TV series that came out right about that very time I ended up loving it, even with all the confusing parts. Recently, I've been very anxious to read it again to see how it seems to me as a now old grown up person.

Here's what I  discovered:

-- this book that I thought was confusing was actually quite simple. Some people in French are very upset over their treatment by the nobility and so one day they rebel and storm the Bastille prison. After a few years, anybody with any connection at all to this nobility has their head on a chopping block, literally  In the meantime, Lucie (who earlier discovers her father she thought was dead has been released from the a fore mentioned Bastille) falls in love with Charles, who sadly has a connection to the French nobility, though he has renounced them and makes a happy life in England. But one day, he decides to go back to France to help a friend. Bad bad choice!

-- the character that I fell in love with the first time WAS as awesome as I remembered, although he didn't appear as often in the story as I remembered or would have liked. Why can't we get to know Sydney Carton a little better? His background? His story? It seems to me all we know is that he is a drunk, lonely dude, but smart as anything and helps his lawyer friend all night long, but gets no recognition. Why? I want to know more. Oh, yes, and strange thing, he looks a lot like Charles. And he loves Lucie, but of course, Lucie loves Charles.

-- I was surprised at the amount of sarcasm and witticisms the author threw into the story. I think that sometimes he was trying to be funny, but I felt like the book and its serious story really didn't lend itself to that, so it was just weird to me. This, of course, was something I didn't catch even a little bit as a 15 year old! I also noticed the literary devices (such as personification) that he uses much more this go around. And no wonder it was confusing to a 15 year old! He's appears to be talking about one thing, when he's really talking about another. This happens over and over again.

-- the end hit me just as hard now as then, maybe harder. Have you read this book? Do you know the ending? I'm guessing pretty much everyone does, but maybe there's a few who don't know it, so I will leave things spoil free here (even though it may be easily guessed too!) but I'd love to discuss in comments your feelings on this ending. The first time around of course I knew nothing so it blew me away. This time I felt the tension building up and dreaded every moment I got closer! Then, it was actually a little anit climatic from what I remembered, but still. There were parts that hit me much harder this time around and I got weepy, yes I did!

Bottom line: Oh, I so do love this book.

Other Reviews:

The plot is relatively fast-moving, and almost free from sub-plots and extraneous characters: it’s not as dense and wordy as a lot of Dickens’ works, and thus is an exciting and thought-provoking read. From Ela's Book Blog

Reading the book this time round the character of Sydney Carton is much clearer in my mind, with several vivid images of his slovenly appearance and drunken behaviour. From BooksPlease

Ultimately, what finally did bring me in to the novel was the human interest: the characterization. Once I understood how all the different characters fit together, I found myself engaged in the novel. From Rebecca Reads

It was an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and I was impressed with how all of the parts of the story worked together. From At Home With Books


  1. My favorite book of all time! Sydney Carton is my favorite character and amen to wanting to know his story.

    1. Rachel: Wow! That was a fast reply! What? Are you just sitting at the computer these days? :)

      Hmmm... I wonder if anyone has attempted a book about Sydney, though it would scare me a little to read it, you know?

  2. You know, I think I really need to try this one again, because it's the only Dickens I've read that I just didn't enjoy. I can't even remember the plot. :)

  3. I read this in high school and was surprised by how much I liked a book I read for English class. (We also read Jude the Obscure in this class. All I remember is thinking "UGH.") I need to read it as an adult and see if I feel the same, though I'm sure I will only love it more. Thanks! Shanda :)

  4. My high school English teacher and I were talking about this book once, and I'll never forget what he said: that after teaching Tale for a good twelve years, he still finds new examples of Dickens's genius each time. Now that's impressive for Old Charley!

  5. Isn't it funny how are views of books change when we're older? At least this one went better for you than Middlemarch. Ugh! ;)

  6. I've never read this one but, dang, I need to run downstairs and get our copy right now! Plus it's one of Dickens' shorter books!

  7. I slugged through this book when I read it and was sure I wasn't going to like it until I read the ending. I have never gotten such chills from an ending! And then I read the sparknotes and saw some of the symbolic the things I missed. The most interesting - the knitting woman who is really holding a grudge and the spilled wine being like the spilled blood. So awesome. It's the best book and I'd love to read it again. It always surprises me too at how funny and witty he is.



Related Posts with Thumbnails