Great Expectations

It’s been over six months since I last read a novel by Charles Dickens (I’m not counting A Christmas Carol, that was only a short story!) because as much as I enjoyed it, Hard Times was actually pretty difficult to wade through. It was perfectly content to rely so heavily on its satire of Utilitarian ideas and the treatment of the working classes during the industrial revolution that, by the novel’s end, 200 pages felt like 500. The opposite, I think, can be said of Great Expectations. Its 500 pages simply flew by in a whirlwind of memorable characters, slightly contrived but thoroughly enjoyable plotting, and themes treated so lightly that teasing them out was actually a great deal of fun.Read More »

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A Christmas Carol

Marley was dead, to begin with…This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.

I woke up the other day with a peculiar notion lodged in my brain. It was my first day off in many many weeks, and I finally had a good stretch of time to catch up on all the TV I’d missed, and to finish the book I’d been reading for so long. However, this idea was too stubborn to be shifted, and I knew it would be a worthwhile undertaking, so here is the result. The idea was this: to read and reflect on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in time for Christmas, in amongst all the present-wrapping and TV-watching and chocolate-eating that is essential in the run up to Christmas Day!Read More »

Hard Times

Hard Times concerns itself with the goings-on of several varied protagonists in the fictional Northern industrial populace of Coketown. Given the novel’s title and industrial setting, those going in with no real preconceptions of the text (like me) might presume a few things about the tone of the novel, the course the plot will likely take, and the types of characters who will carry that plot. But this story, one of Charles Dickens’ least-read works and certainly his shortest, challenged my prejudices at every turn with pointed satire, surprising emotional power and witty, brilliant writing.Read More »