Many of you know I set out to read 10 books by Charles Dickens this year. When autumn arrived, I needed a break from Dickens. That’s when I heard that Caroline and Delia were hosting Dickens in December. So I set some of his books aside—four to be exact. Well, I may have set too many aside. However, I can’t change that now. I’ve completed three of them, and started the fourth and last one for the year. The last one, Our Mutual Friend, is over 700 pages. Odds are good that I won’t finish it. Only time will tell.
I have known for years that A Tale of Two Cities starts off with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” But that’s all I knew. From other bloggers I picked up that it was about the French Revolution. Here’s a brief synopsis since many of you have read the novel. Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat is accused of treason. Sydney Carton is a cynical Englishman. He and Darnay look almost identical. This likeness helps Darnay escape the accusation. Yet, when Darnay travels to France during the French Revolution, can his life be spared during the terror?
After reading it I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy the first half. It’s a dark novel, even for Dickens. Normally his novels include bumbling characters that add humor to ease the dreariness. This one is devoid of humor. The characters are one-dimensional. Also, most of his novels include a wide array of characters that pop in and out of the story. This one has fewer characters. The real story in this novel is the French Revolution.
What makes this novel one of the most famous historical fiction novels? For me, it’s the end. When I persevered through the first half I was rewarded with a story that impelled me to stay up late to finish the entire novel. When I started to piece together what was actually going to happen I couldn’t believe it. If you’ve read the novel, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I don’t want to ruin it for you. It was the ending of this novel that made me enjoy it. All I can say is, if you don’t like it at first, give it some time. It gets better.
Now I have two more reviews to write for 2012. Where did this year go?