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.
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!
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!
That is a tough goal–don’t forget to add my novel to your TBR 🙂 Totally kidding. I have a hard time keeping track of my TBR. I think it now officially includes every book I own
How is your novel coming anyway? I haven’t heard you mention it in a while, and I can’t wait to read it :).
Almost done actually. The editor has gone over it twice. Needs a few tweaks and a cover now. Soon! Very soon!
Hey, I just heard on the news about a chopper crashing in London. Did it happen anywhere near you?
I didn’t even know it happened. Not near me. I’m not that close to the river. Wow–that’s horrible. My thoughts are with the families.
Ooooh, that is so exciting about your book!! That is something I would love to do one day….
I hope you do! Then we can do a book tour together in England and go to pubs. Remember: half pints for you and me.
I haven’t heard all of the details, but I heard there were some deaths. How horrible!!
So far I’ve heard of two deaths. Such a shame.
Ooooh, I love your joint book tour and pub crawling idea. I’m in!!! I guess I’d better get writing LOL!!
Start with 500 words a day. They add up quickly. And if you need a beta reader, I’m in!
Aww, you’re such a good friend!! Thanks – I will remember that :).
Bravo! Great Expectations is my favourite.
Mine too! I love that book
That is pretty awesome! Congrats, and hooray for Dickens! : )
Thanks. It feels good to accomplish a goal.
Wow! VERY impressive!!!! Very!!!! Congrats and good luck on the next goal! I am sure you are going to be able to do it!!!!
Thanks for the encouragement! I’ll to my best.
Well done to you and you´ll have fun witht he Austen – she´s my fave!
I’m looking forward to reading her again.
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”…
I’ve read some of Austen’s books, but not all of them. I’m looking forward to immersing myself into her world. I’m glad you like the reviews–that’s nice to hear. And I’ll have to look for Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. Thanks so much for the comment. You are so kind 🙂
Just the truth!
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!!
I’ll look into it! Thanks!
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 🙂
I know you hate Austen–just kidding! If you need a recommendation on Dickens let me know.
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…
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.
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!
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.
Congratulations, that’s quite an achievement! I’m jealous of you for having all those unread Jane Austen books to enjoy.
I’ve read a couple, but not all. I’m looking forward to it.
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.
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.
Well done! Can we now call you a Dickens fan? 🙂
Welcome to the club 🙂
Do I get a t shirt? I love collecting t shirts 🙂 Seriously though, Dickens is brilliant and it was a real joy reading all ten of the novels. And as an aspiring writer I learned much.
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 🙂
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.
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.
I’ll look for it. Thanks for the suggestion!
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. 🙂
I wish you luck with your goal. Which two do you plan on reading?
Well one would probably be a Nora Ephron book to keep me light and laughing, the other might be Life of Pi or She Comes Undone. I heard good things from both, but have yet to decide
I have Life of Pi on my shelf and I’m considering reading it. Let me know if you want to read it together.
Dude I would so love to read Life of Pi with you? Can we do it after you finish the current book you are reading? I would love a virtual book club with you. It would be great!! Would that be in February? March?
Let me know what works for you. I usually read a couple of books at a time so I’m pretty flexible. It’ll be fun!
How about February?
Sounds good. How much time shall we set aside?
Dude. I have no idea. Time for each chapter, or time for the entire book, or time to cheese it up about the book. This is my first virtual book reading party.
No worries dude. Let’s make this simple. both of us will start in February and when we finish, we finish and then write our thoughts on our blogs. I have no deadline in mind. I want it to be a fun experience, not like homework.
Dude. That sounds good. And if I run into dramatic stuff along the way that I have to speak of I’m going to definitely send you a message 🙂 It’s on February 🙂
No worries. the last buddy read I did the poor gal got sick and we didn’t review it for months. My concern is that you enjoy and take however long you need. Life happens.
Dude. I love that. Love it.
Life is way too short to stress about little things.
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.
2 in a month can be a lot. I was averaging about one a month until it came to crunch time 🙂
Miss Austen will be a treat for you she is so much easier than Dickens, well done you for wading through that lot 🙂
I think she will be a nice break for me. I love Dickens, but he can get wordy.
Congrats on reaching your goal!
That’s a lot of books! Congratulations 🙂
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!!
They really are a pleasure to read!
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.
That’s pretty cool! I hope he did it to be nice. I like to think the best.
Wow, major accomplishment–congrats! I still haven’t read some of Dickens’ work, so you’re an inspiration for sure.
Happy reading 🙂
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. 🙂
I didn’t think of that with Austen, but you’re right. That will be an accomplishment–to complete all of her finished novels.
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. 🙂