Whew! I finally finished my second novel by Charles Dickens. Eight more to go this year. I had hoped to finish this novel in February, but it took me three extra days. The novel is 796 pages long and I read it for one of my challenges, The Tea and Books Reading Challenge. This challenge involves reading novels over 700 pages. With this novel, I completed the first of six chunksters I have selected for the year.
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby was Dickens’ third novel. Nicholas is a young man who has to take care of his sister and mom after his father dies. His father had lost all his money after making several unwise investments leaving Nicholas, his wife, and daughter destitute. Nicholas heads to London with both of them to ask for help from his uncle and his dad’s brother. Uncle Ralph decides instantly that Nicholas will not be successful in life. Ralph is a cruel businessman who does not wish to help his only relatives. The uncle does help Nicholas get a job as assistant to Wackford Squeers, who owns and operates a school for boys in Yorkshire. However, Squeers is a cruel teacher who takes in unwanted boys and abuses and starves the boys knowing that there will not be any repercussions. Nicholas cannot stand the cruel treatment of the boys and finally snaps, attacks Squeers, and then runs away. Ralph hears of this event and soon after he becomes Nicholas’ enemy. Nicholas has to find a way to survive without his uncle’s aid and money. In addition, he has to outmaneuver his uncle who wants to destroy him.
From the description above, you might assume that the novel is overly depressing. In fact, the novel is quite humorous. Dickens has such a knack for writing social satire that I couldn’t help from laughing out loud on several occasions. Also, he has such lovable characters and wonderful scoundrels that you love to hate. I kept cheering on Nicholas and wishing for his uncle to fall flat on his face. This novel solidified his reputation and it was the first time he included a romance in the story.
Before starting my project to read ten novels by Dickens, I had never heard of this novel. After reading it, I’m ashamed to admit that. In fact, during his time, the novel was published in installments. The public could not wait for the next one to be released and some of the installments were pirated as soon as he completed them. This novel is such a great addition to his works. And I’m glad that I finally “discovered” it.