A Tale of Two Cities

I must look like a blundering fool, as the majority of books I have reviewed, have befuddled me. Do not expect this review to be any different. I like a challenge.

I was glad to find another Dickens novel which matched my ancient copy of A Christmas Carol. Both are leather-bound, with gold embossing, which is very fitting for an author whose name has become an adjective. I also picked up Great Expectations and a Kipling novel in this series.

I had first attempted A Tale of Two Cities when I was 12. It didn’t work out well. This was attempt number two. I dislike emphatic repetition. Needles to say, the first page of this novel was painful. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ is a very famous line. What they don’t tell you is the whole page goes on with juxtapositions to the point where I screamed, “I get it, it was a very confusing and conflicted time!” If I hadn’t been so frustrated, I might have been more prepared for the rest of the novel.

In an attempt to create and dark sense of mystery, Dickens bombarded me with a flurry of characters, innuendo and scenic changes. Spoiler alert: There are more than two.

A Tale of Two Cities

I try to avoid any educated critiques of books before I read them so I can have a genuine response to the words. However, after struggling through half this novel, I went to wikipedia to figure out what I had just read. The second half of the novel was much easier to follow. Having said that, I find Dickens’ style of prose enjoyable for the most part. Much like attending your first ballet, I would recommend having a skeleton idea of the plot before embarking on this venture. The story is fantastic, once you catch on. I can understand why this book is a classic and would recommend it.

I still stand by my position not to read analyses before commencing a book. My favourite quote captures this idea: “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”, George S Patton.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “A Tale of Two Cities

  1. pagebychapterbybook

    I have tried to get through A Tale of Two Cities twice and simply cannot get into it. I used to think I just wasn’t a Dickens fan, but I couldn’t put Great Expectations down. Maybe I’ll have to give it one more try and just push through that first half!

    • Do try, part 3 is especially good because he stops introducing characters, and gets into a story. Great Expectations was going to be my next read, so glad to hear you found it a good read!

    • DKS

      Two Cities is his driest book; the rest are more energetic. If it doesn’t suit you then might I suggest moving on to something else, Copperfield, perhaps, Dombey and Son, or Bleak House, something with a little more juice?

      On the other hand I don’t know what it was about the book that made you want to give it up; maybe it wasn’t the juicelessness but something else, a character, a motif, in which case I’d still say, “Go over to Copperfield or one of the others,” because, frankly, I prefer them, and I dislike Cities, with its heroism, and its air of a history lesson.

      • I actually like the characters, heroism, and things set around an historic event (especially have just read Paine and Rousseau), just had too many blonde moments 🙂 For me I just didn’t know what was going on. I think Dickens was trying to create an element of mystery and keep the reader guessing but I found it too difficult to keep track. I think I would struggle with his writings if they were more energetic. Great expectations would be my next read of his, but as all reading lsits, it gets longer and longer, Will add Copperfield to the end. Thanks!

  2. I am not a fan of Dickens at all (The Old Curiosity Shop was torturous) but I absolutely loved A Tale of Two Cities. I found it unexpectedly funny.
    I think it’s a good idea to make your own judgements about a book, why else would we read them?

  3. DKS

    You’re welcome, and I hope you have a fruitful time with Great Expectations.

  4. I have downloaded this book onto my Kindle for another “run”. I read all of Dickens from a collection my cousin had when I was about 12-14. Can’t remember a word of it but I did feel I’d achieved something -not sure what! Your gold-embossed, leather-bound edition sounds like what she had. Time to try again I think. Again I lol’d at your descriptions. Pauleen

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