Charles Dickens — Check!

I did it! I set out to read ten novels my Dickens in 2012. By the end of the year I had finished nine of them. Last week I finished the tenth. As you can see from the photo, there were many pages involved. I actually haven’t added them up, but it’s safe to say that I read thousands of pages. Do I regret embarking on this project? Absolutely not. To be honest, I’m a little sad that it’s over. There are still novels by Dickens that I haven’t read, but I have completed all of his novels on the 1001 list.

Some of these novels are used copies, which is why a few of them look pretty beat up. I like to crack the spine of my books, but I don't usually treat them this bad. The pages in David Copperfield started to fall out at one point, which for some reason seemed fitting.

Some of these novels are used copies, which is why a few of them look pretty beat up. I like to crack the spine of my books, but I don’t usually treat them this bad. The pages in David Copperfield started to fall out at one point, which for some reason seemed fitting.

The last book on the list is Our Mutual Friend. Fittingly, it was the last novel that Dickens completed. Like many of his other works, the plot revolves around money, the poor, and social inequality. However, this one delved deeper into the plights of the poor. His insights are alarming, not because he thought the way he did, but because he was actually describing living situations and beliefs of his time. His descriptions tugged on my heart and made me angry.

A quick plot summary: John Harmon’s father has died. The will stipulates that John has to marry Bella Wilfer or he won’t get any of the money. And there’s lots of money involved. At the time of his father’s death, John is abroad. During his voyage back to England and to Bella, he’s believed to be drowned, possibly murdered. This suspicion plays an integral role in the novel, most especially for John. I’m going to let you in on a secret. If you don’t want to know it, stop reading. I should mention that the secret is pretty obvious in the book, but I still want to warn people who hate any type of spoiler. John isn’t dead. He doesn’t correct the belief that he is dead so he can get to know Bella, the woman he is supposed to marry, but he has never met her.

Like many of his novels, his cast of characters includes a wide array of folks: evil plotters, ignorant ones, simple-minded, murderers, kind, lovable, and many more. While I enjoyed this novel, it was not my favorite. I would recommend it for those who already know they like Dickens. His scrutiny of his own society is illuminating. For those who haven’t read him yet, I wouldn’t suggest starting with this one. It’s good, but it won’t show you his true brilliance. And I don’t think it will hook you on his storytelling abilities. Instead start with Great Expectations, David Copperfield, or Bleak House. Or if you want a short one, A Christmas Carol.

Many of you know that my project this year is to travel more via books, which means to read novels from all over the world, not just from America or England. However, I can’t ignore English writers completely. Jane Austen has six novels on the 1001 list. I’ve already read Pride and Prejudice for my 1001 project. I intended to read all of her novels closer together. But when I found out in 2011 that I was moving to London I decided to wait and read them while living in England. So folks, in addition to reading works from all over, I hope to read the remaining five Austen novels this year. Thank goodness she didn’t write such large books like Dickens. I don’t think this goal will be too hard to manage. However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. We’ll find out in December if I’m successful. One project done, on to the next one. Happy reading folks!

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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77 Responses to Charles Dickens — Check!

  1. Congrats on finishing the Dickens challenge!! That’s quite the accomplishment, and you must feel great :). My goal this year is to get through my TBR pile, but the problem is that it just keeps getting bigger and bigger LOL!

  2. jmgoyder says:

    Bravo! Great Expectations is my favourite.

  3. Charissa says:

    That is pretty awesome! Congrats, and hooray for Dickens! : )

  4. Beth Ann says:

    Wow! VERY impressive!!!! Very!!!! Congrats and good luck on the next goal! I am sure you are going to be able to do it!!!!

  5. Well done to you and you´ll have fun witht he Austen – she´s my fave!

  6. ilargia64 says:

    Congratulations!!!!! I love Jane Austen!! Hope you will enjoy her books!!!
    Waiting for more of your reviews….I found Sylvia Plath thanks to you, and I enjoyed this x-mas “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams”…
    A hug!

  7. What a great challenge to set yourself. I should really do something similar. There is a Charles Dickens Festival in Broadstairs Kent each summer. You should go!!

  8. Geoff W says:

    Still impressed by Dickens. I couldn’t get into it even though I enjoyed the two I read. I’m sure I will expand my selection, perhaps one a year. And you already know my thoughts on Austen 🙂

  9. hillarypat says:

    Wow, congrats! The only Dickens book I’ve read is Great Expectations which was years ago. However, starting next month I’m going to be reading Bleak House- it’s good to know that you recommend it for those new to Dickens. I’ve only read P&P by Austen but I’ve been wanting to read more, especially since 2013 is the 200 year anniversary of P&P’s publication. I’m not sure if I want to challenge myself to read all of her books this year but maybe I will…

    • TBM says:

      200 years, can you believe it and people still love it. Austen did well. I hope you enjoy Bleak House. Many fans of his writings consider this his best work. I’m excited to hear your thoughts on it. And if you decide to read more Austen this year, enjoy! Happy reading.

      • hillarypat says:

        She really did; when I read P&P the first thing that really struck me was how accessible it was. I know nothing at all about Bleak House so that is encouraging to hear! I think I will make it a point to read Austen this year, I loved P&P so I really have no excuse not to have read more!

      • TBM says:

        I hope you enjoy both Bleak House and whichever Austen you read. her writing is so beautiful and simple. And simple writing is hard to write.

  10. biblioglobal says:

    Congratulations, that’s quite an achievement! I’m jealous of you for having all those unread Jane Austen books to enjoy.

  11. letizia says:

    That’s so fun that you read them all in the same year! I’m sure it gave you a greater feel for his style and world than just reading one of his novels from time to time as most of us do.

    • TBM says:

      In the beginning I thought it would be too much for me, ten of his novels. In the end, I think it made me appreciate his writing even more.

  12. Colline says:

    Well done! Can we now call you a Dickens fan? 🙂

  13. congratulations! that’s an inspiring stack! in fact, it just inspired me to get my unread copy of “our mutual friend” off the book shelf and put it in my tbr stack where it might stand a chance of getting some attention. thx 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I hope you like it. His analysis on the poor was eye-opening. I’m glad I didn’t stack the books like that before I started the project. It might have turned me off it completely. But seeing all that I accomplished is fun. And I’m super excited to read Austen.

  14. One of my favorite historicals would take you to Tasmania–it is called The English Passengers by Matthew Kneale. I felt as though I had been there after reading it. Best of luck with the new year and the new goals.

  15. The Guat says:

    Dude this is totally amazing. The fact that you read 10 novels in a year is great. The fact that they were all Dickens dude…definitely a Holy Crap moment. Congratulations! I’d be lucky if I finished one novel a year … my goal is two this year. 🙂

  16. lynnsbooks says:

    Well done for sticking to that challenge – not a small one either! I managed two Dickens last year for a little challenge in December but that was enough for the time being! I do like his writing though and he really has written some excellent stories.
    Lynn 😀

  17. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Miss Austen will be a treat for you she is so much easier than Dickens, well done you for wading through that lot 🙂

  18. pattisj says:

    Congrats on reaching your goal!

  19. That’s a lot of books! Congratulations 🙂

  20. petit4chocolatier says:

    Congratulations my dear! What a feat 🙂
    You are the number one fan of Dickens!! There are a couple that I haven’t read, and some that I could read over again. Thank you for reminding us how great these books are!!

  21. congratulations! i have a complete set of counterfeit dickens books published during his lifetime. a friend, who is a publisher, told me dickens allowed publishers in the US to print these counterfeit books but whether his motive was altruistic or not, i don’t know.

  22. Wow, major accomplishment–congrats! I still haven’t read some of Dickens’ work, so you’re an inspiration for sure.

  23. Caroline says:

    A lot of pages indeed! Congratulations.
    With Jane Austen you will have the satisfaction that once you’ve read the six on the list you’ve read all of her novels. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I didn’t think of that with Austen, but you’re right. That will be an accomplishment–to complete all of her finished novels.

      • Caroline says:

        If you get infected by the Austen virus, I think the unfinished book is nice too and there is an enormous amount of fan fiction, some of it, very good. So the journey doesn’t have to end after “only” six books. 🙂

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