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Group Read: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Dec 28, 2017, 1:14pm Top

Happy New Year and welcome to the Group Read Thread for Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens.

We’re starting off the year with a bang, as per msf59 Mark’s suggestion.

My copy of Nicholas Nickleby is 780 pages, 65 chapters long. I’ll be trying to read two or three chapters a day since I found that to be such an effective tool for both Great Expectations and Bleak House.

Here is the rather boring cover of my copy:

Here are a few, more interesting covers:

From Wikipedia's introductory information on Nicholas Nickleby:

Originally published as a serial from 1838 to 1839, it was Dickens's third novel.

The novel centres on the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies.

He returned to his favourite publishers and to the format that was considered so successful with The Pickwick Papers. The story first appeared in monthly parts, after which it was issued in one volume. The style is considered to be episodic and humorous, though the second half of the novel becomes more serious and tightly plotted. Dickens began writing 'Nickleby' while still working on Oliver Twist and while the mood is considerably lighter, his depiction of the Yorkshire school run by Wackford Squeers is as moving and influential as those of the workhouse and criminal underclass in Twist.

'Nickleby' marks a new development in a further sense as it is the first of Dickens's romances. When it was published the book was an immediate and complete success and established Dickens's lasting reputation.

I’ll be starting January 1, but for those of you who wish to start early, please be mindful of spoilers. If you want to discuss something that is considered “spoilerish”, like "The Butler did it" or "I can't believe that Nicholas Nickleby tweeted that horrible message!", use the following syntax:

Happy reading!

Dec 28, 2017, 1:19pm Top

Oh, sounds fun! I hope everyone who joins in has fun and enjoys the book as much as I did when I read it. I'd love to re-read but there are too many other books calling my name that I can't allow myself that, but I'll keep an eye on this thread - will be very interesting to see what everyone thinks of it.

Dec 28, 2017, 4:45pm Top

Added to the 2018 group wiki!

Edited: Dec 28, 2017, 5:36pm Top

>2 PawsforThought: Hi! I can understand too many books, too little time, but as we go along if you want to chime in, please do so!

>3 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! You are all seeing, all knowing, and I figured you'd find this thread soon enough. *smile*

Dec 29, 2017, 1:46am Top

Read the preface and intro today! I had to start or I'll never keep up.

Dec 29, 2017, 7:26am Top

Excellent, Kim!

Dec 29, 2017, 2:58pm Top

I'm in...I think I've read it twice, the last time in 2009.

Dec 29, 2017, 3:01pm Top

Hi Kathy, and welcome. This will be my first read.

Dec 29, 2017, 3:42pm Top

I'm in! I purchased a Penguin edition for my Kindle (because of the 780 pages thing) but it has illustrations, etc. This will be my first time reading Nicholas Nickleby.

Thanks for hosting us, Karen!

Dec 29, 2017, 3:46pm Top

N2 first timer. I have the Oxford Illustrated version. 831 pages.

Did my two chapters today like a good little girl. : )

Dec 29, 2017, 4:15pm Top

>9 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! Yay. You may have to point me to that Kindle edition with illustrations - are they the original ones by Phiz?

You're welcome.

>10 Berly: You are a good girl, Kim. I'm still working hard on book 100 for 2017.

Dec 29, 2017, 4:32pm Top

I started a couple of days ago. I'm doing Whispersync so Kindle and audio narrated by Simon Vance. So far it's been a listen only. I'm 5 chapters in.

Dec 29, 2017, 4:38pm Top

Hi Roberta! Welcome aboard.

Dec 29, 2017, 9:21pm Top

>9 EBT1002: I purchased the Penguin edition for Kindle at Amazon too. The library's digital collections only had audio versions -- around 30 hours of listening. I can read much faster than that!

Dec 29, 2017, 10:22pm Top

>9 EBT1002: and >14 thornton37814: Okay, I succumbed! It isn't the edition with illustrations, but I have those in my hardcover.

I will start with my hardcover book, but possibly convert to the Kindle edition I just bought for $.99. Except when I just looked at the order summary, it says there was a $.99 promotion - possibly some credit left from our TV purchase last September and some delivery issues. Not complaining - I would have spent $.99 but am happier to spend $.00.

Dec 29, 2017, 10:50pm Top

>15 karenmarie: I debated getting one from Internet Archive for free, but I figured the formatting was better in the Penguin one, and I didn't mind spending 99 cents.

Dec 30, 2017, 1:21pm Top

This'll be my first time reading it. I own a copy of the Project Gutenberg version on Kindle.

Dec 30, 2017, 2:13pm Top

>16 thornton37814: Formatting is important, I think, and $.99 is more than reasonable. So glad you're participating!

>17 lindapanzo: Hi Linda! I've never downloaded Project Gutenberg books to my Kindle. I have done so with Verso and I realize it's not terribly difficult, but haven't ever made the literal connection to PG on my Amazon account. Thanks for the reminder of a wonderful resource.

Dec 30, 2017, 6:36pm Top

>18 karenmarie: I may have misspoke on my edition. I thought it says Project Gutenberg but I got it on Amazon.

Dec 31, 2017, 12:08pm Top

I'm reading a Project Gutenberg copy. Will start reading on 1 January.

Dec 31, 2017, 9:17pm Top

>11 karenmarie: Yes, the Kindle edition I purchased has the "original illustrations by Hablot K. Browne ("PHIZ')" ~~ I will start reading tomorrow, January 1st!

Dec 31, 2017, 11:40pm Top

I won't be starting for a few days, but I'm looking forward to sharing my first read of Mr. Nickleby with all of you. Special thanks to Karen for hosting the thread.

Edited: Jan 1, 2:28pm Top

>19 lindapanzo: No worries, Linda. All editions work.

>20 EllaTim: Hi Ella! I’m going to start today, too.

>21 EBT1002: I just love those illustrations, Ellen! Here’s the frontispiece from my edition, The Yorkshire Schoolmaster at The Saracen's Head by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne), and a link to all the illustrations by Phiz for Nicholas Nickleby.

Phiz Illustrations of Nicholas Nickleby

>22 rosalita: Hi Julia! Thank you. This is my 3rd hosting of a Charles Dickens novel. Welcome.

Jan 1, 11:49am Top

Hi all! I read this many years ago, just before seeing the remarkable 2-part play. As soon as I dig it out of my storage locker, I'll join in.

Jan 1, 12:42pm Top

Hi Judy!

Excellent and welcome.

Jan 1, 1:39pm Top

Happy New Year of fun group reading!

Got Nicholas Nickleby up again on DailyLit.
I had briefly started it in November, then saw the group read and was glad this one was chosen.

Daily Lit does not have illustrations so hope more can go up.

Thanks again and, with Paul bowing out, are there other UK readers in the group
to enlighten us if English oddities come up?

Edited: Jan 1, 1:55pm Top

Not a UK reader, but I'm pretty good at "English oddities", Marianne, with Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Sayers being my favorite authors.

Husband and I have been watching Midsomer Murders for a month or more now and there are quite a few phrases that I have to enlighten him about. Some of them are mystery related, but quite a few are just "English oddities" to us Americans.

I posted a link for all Phiz illustrations of Nicholas Nickleby in message 23 above, but will try to remember to post illustrations at about the 2-chapter-a-day pace.

Jan 1, 2:21pm Top

>27 karenmarie: Hi Karen, Thanks for posting the link to those illustrations, they are really fun to look at. There is a problem with the link, I copied it and had to cut the right part out, here it is again.

I'm in chapter two, finding that reading Dickens does require concentration, long sentences! But I will get used to it, I think.

Jan 1, 2:26pm Top

Thank you, Ella.

That's really bizarre about the link, because I tested it before I posted it but when I went back it was wrong. I cut and pasted your link back into my message so anybody can find it correctly either place.

Jan 1, 2:28pm Top

>26 m.belljackson: Not a Brit, but have lived in the UK and am fairly familiar with "English oddities", so can at least try to explain if something is perplexing.

Jan 1, 10:42pm Top

I started listening to the audiobook read by Simon Vance today. Eight chapters in so far. Perfect listening while doing needlepoint.

Jan 1, 11:42pm Top

I began reading it this evening while watching the ball games.

Edited: Jan 2, 6:47am Top

I read the introduction and first 2 chapters last night.

I absolutely cannot resist posting this cartoon by Tom Gauld, from the book You're All Just Jealous of my Jetpack.

Jan 2, 11:30am Top

I thought I would join in as well - I've never read it. I was going to borrow my copy from my library, but after seeing that there was a Penguin Classic on Amazon, I decided to purchase instead. Mine seems to have 864 pages. I'll start as soon as I finish the book I'm reading, which will likely be tomorrow, and alternate between N2 and God Stalk.

Edited: Jan 2, 12:48pm Top

I've never read Nicholas Nickleby, so I'm going to try as well.

I don't own a copy, so I'm hoping the local public library has a copy.

Addendum: nope, only e-books, so I've requested a copy through ILL.

Jan 2, 12:46pm Top

>33 karenmarie: That's an excellent summary of almost every Charles Dickens novels ever. Certainly true of Oliver Twist.

Jan 2, 4:22pm Top

>34 rretzler: Hi Robin and so glad you can join us. N2 - I like it.

>35 fuzzi: The more the merrier, fuzzi.

>36 PawsforThought: I just cracked up when I saw it.

Jan 2, 4:36pm Top

>27 karenmarie:

Okay - Chapter 1

"...as the adventurous pair of the Fives' Court will all send round a hat..."

Fives' Court?

"...falling from the top of the Monument..."


Jan 2, 5:34pm Top

>38 m.belljackson: It's referring to a sport called "fives" (which is played on a fives court). There are several types of "fives", so not sure which one they're referring to (Eton Fives and Rugby Fives are the most known).

Monument is the Monument to the Great Fire of London. It's near the northern end of London Bridge and has a tube station named after it.

Jan 2, 5:53pm Top

>23 karenmarie: Cool link, Karen. Thank you for posting that.

I started reading last night, finished just the first two chapters. Starting to get a feel for the, um, rhythm of the narrative..... I use rhythm very consciously - it's like getting your sea legs during an extended cruise.

>33 karenmarie: Perfect.

Jan 2, 6:29pm Top

>39 PawsforThought:

Thank you - I'll go back and read those parts again.

Does a fives court have anything to do with the number?

Jan 2, 6:50pm Top

>41 m.belljackson: No problem.
No, the court is not related to the number. According to wikipedia, the name "may be derived from the slang expression "a bunch of fives" (meaning a fist)."

Edited: Jan 2, 7:17pm Top

I have had this thread starred but I haven't commented yet. I am definitely in. I will have it, on audio and in print and I plan on starting it, at the end of the week or next week for sure.

This will be my first time reading NN.

Thanks for setting this up, Karen. You are doing a fine hosting job.

Edited: Jan 3, 12:41am Top

>37 karenmarie: Unfortunately I'm not very original, Karen...I confess I copied from Kim!

>38 m.belljackson: >39 PawsforThought: Found an interesting article about Five's Court here

This website might help to give us some background and answer questions if needed: David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page

Jan 3, 8:14am Top

>38 m.belljackson: Sorry I didn’t get back here yesterday afternoon. Paws has answered admirably in >39 PawsforThought:.

>39 PawsforThought: Thanks, Paws!

>40 EBT1002: Hi Ellen. I had to slow down and change my reading style a bit, too.

>41 m.belljackson: and >42 PawsforThought: I must admit that I thought fives related to boxing, so learning that it’s a type of handball is good to know.

>43 msf59: Hi Mark! Looking forward to your joining us. I hope this starts off your year with the bang you want it to!

>44 rretzler: Hi Robin! Thanks for the link.

Does everybody else's editions have the Chapter Titles? Chapter 4, which I'm going to start in a few minutes, is

Chapter IV
Nicholas and his Uncle (to secure the fortune without loss of time) wait upon Mr. Wackford Squeers, the Yorkshire Schoolmaster

And now, last one, I promise, is another Tom Gauld cartoon from You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack.

Jan 3, 11:20am Top

>44 rretzler: Hi Robin, two interesting links you've given us, thanks!

Jan 3, 12:24pm Top

Joining in

Jan 3, 1:15pm Top

Hi Jim! Welcome.

Jan 3, 3:17pm Top

>44 rretzler: I stored that link on Pinterest.

Jan 3, 8:14pm Top

>45 karenmarie: I have the same titles for the chapters. They are both amusing and helpful!

When I get home I will start Chapter 5: Nicholas starts for Yorkshire. - of his Leave-taking and his Fellow Travellers, and what befell them on the road

Jan 3, 8:31pm Top

Nicholas Nickleby is a Dickens I have never read, so I am going to give this a shot, although I will be listening to the audio book, narrated by Simon Vance.

Jan 3, 8:51pm Top

>45 karenmarie:

DailyLit.com has those same titles which I have started to skip to keep suspense intact.

Jan 3, 8:54pm Top

>44 rretzler:

What GREAT Links - Five's Court turned out not to be just an aside to skip over!

Thank you - I'll spend a lot of time with David Perdue.

Jan 3, 9:24pm Top

>49 thornton37814: I added it to my favorites, Lori. I have a Pinterest account but don't use it much.

>50 EBT1002: I'll be starting chapter 5 tomorrow morning, Ellen.

>51 alcottacre: Welcome, Stasia!

>52 m.belljackson: I sort of like the chapter headings, Marianne, but skip away!

Jan 4, 12:09am Top

>45 karenmarie: So, I've been hit by a book bullet - I'm going to have to check out You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack

>45 karenmarie: >50 EBT1002: I just love chapter titles of old books! Much more interesting than just numbers!

>53 m.belljackson: You're welcome. After reading old books and historical novels, I can spend another whole day just surfing the net answering my questions.

Starting to read N2 tomorrow.

Jan 4, 8:48am Top

Hi Robin!

I really need to stop visiting threads and actually start reading chapter 5.....

Jan 4, 9:56am Top

>56 karenmarie: Ha! The same for me. : )

Although before I go, I want to say thanks for the explanation >39 PawsforThought: and I love the comics.

Jan 4, 1:58pm Top

I'm starting chapter 6 today. I would have started it last night, but I managed to leave the iPad in the slot with my choir music at church. I retrieved it this morning so I plan to try to make some progress this afternoon/evening.

Jan 4, 2:41pm Top

Hi Lori! Good for you. I did some reading today, and will start chapter VII tomorrow. I've really had to slow down, so as to catch the nuance and actual content with the old-fashioned language.

Jan 4, 7:00pm Top

>59 karenmarie: It's a little slower of a read for me too, but I'm hoping to make it a little further this evening before calling it a night. I also want to make progress on another book.

Jan 5, 4:22pm Top

From the 1929 Introduction to THE ANCIENT MARINER:

"Late in 1781, his ((Samuel Coleridge)) father died, and the following year the boy was transferred from the grammar school,
where he had gone from a Dame's School, and had easily outstripped all of his own age, to Christ's Hospital,
the great charity school of London -- an establishment where excellent instruction was to be had,
but where the diet and discipline were of the sort found at the notorious Mr. Squeer's Dotheboys Hall."

Jan 5, 7:49pm Top

^I started Nickelby today and I am happy to report, it begins swimmingly. I am just starting Chapter 5. I love kicking off the year with a Dickens, and I still have several of his books to catch up on.

I think I will just stick with the audio. It is narrated by the well-respected Simon Vance and he is doing a stellar job.

Wackford Squeers and Newman Noggs? Doesn't he come up with the best names ever?

Jan 5, 8:37pm Top

>61 m.belljackson: Good catch!

>62 msf59: Best names ever.

Edited: Jan 5, 11:59pm Top

>62 msf59: I'm listening to the same audio, Mark, but only on chapter 4. I also have the Penguin paperback, so am going back and reading the Intro and the Notes.

There's a quote in the Intro from George Orwell, which I think is so true: "The outstanding, unmistakable mark of Dickens' writing is the unnecessary detail."

It's all the detail that makes it so Dickensian, for lack of a better word.

Jan 6, 12:49pm Top

I love You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, and his newer one, Baking with Kafka. I love his sense of humor.

I'd better start Nicholas Nickleby, so I can follow along on the questions and comments!

Jan 6, 1:20pm Top

>61 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne! References to Dickens and Nicholas Nickleby permeate so many things, thanks for sharing this one. Having read through chapter VII, I truly understand that reference.

>62 msf59: Hi Mark and welcome! Oh yes, definitely wonderful and apropos names.

>63 Berly: Hi Kim!

>64 kac522: The detail is wonderful, but also the understatement. Here's the opening sentence of chapter VIII. One sentence says so much:
A ride of two hundred and odd miles in severe weather, is one of the best softeners of a hard bed that ingenuity can devise.

Jan 6, 1:28pm Top

>61 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne! This is a wonderful reference, so glad you shared it!

>62 msf59: Hi Mark! Welcome.

>63 Berly: Hi Kim!

64 Hi Kathy! I may end up switching to my Kindle like I did for the Bleak House group read last year. Two media certainly can’t hurt.

The detail makes it Dickensian, absolutely, but I’ve found several succinct treasures that paint a vivid picture with few words, like the opening sentence of Chapter VIII:
A ride of two hundred and odd miles in severe weather, is one of the best softeners of a hard bed that ingenuity can devise.
>65 jnwelch: Hi Joe and welcome. I’m new to Tom Gauld, and so many of his cartoons relate to books or writers!

Jan 6, 7:38pm Top

I am just starting Chapter 14, although I won't be able to get back to it, for a couple of days. Sad face.

Question: This is considered a classic comic novel, right? 150 pages in- Where is the comedy? I do see plenty of child abuse, though. Obviously, I doubt Dickens pitched it as a comedy, but I am just curious why it is classified as such.

All that said, I am really enjoying this novel. My favorite character, at the moment anyway, might be Newman Noggs.

Jan 6, 7:43pm Top

>68 msf59: I'd day it's more of a "dramedy". It's drama with a lot of comedy in it - just like many other Dickens novels. The comedy is primarily in the rather silly and exaggerated supporting characters (like the schoolmaster's family, who are ridiculus). There's also others coming later on in the novels.

Jan 6, 8:15pm Top

I made it to 25% last night. I don't remember the chapter number. I've read a tiny bit further today, but I hope to be at the 30% mark before I go to bed.

Jan 7, 12:33pm Top

It has been a long, long time since I've read any Dickens - maybe as far back as HS. My first impression was that I had forgotten how "readable" Dickens is compared to other authors of the same period and of the 19th century generally. Wilkie Collins pops into my mind immediately. I enjoy reading Collins, but I remember having to work a little harder to read his books than I am with Dickens.

>68 msf59: I have to echo Mark, I'm also not seeing a lot of comedy yet, although Newman Noggins gives me a little chuckle. I have to wonder, though, if quite a bit of the comedy goes over my head because it is relative to that specific time and place.

I have the Penguin Kindle version of the book, which has the x-ray feature. It bothers me that when I go to the x-ray and look at people, it describes Mr. Nicholas Nickleby as "a hard, stern, mean, greedy man." Sigh - I'm sure that was meant to be Ralph, but how did someone get that sooooooooo wrong?

It is already easy to see Squeers character as he "brags" about the treatment he gave the boy who died
'Ah! Mrs. Squeers, sir, was as partial to that lad as if he had been her own; the attention, sir, that was bestowed upon that boy in his illness -- dry toast and warm tea offered him every night and morning when he couldn't swallow anything -- a candle in his bedroom on the very night he died -- the best dictionary sent up for him to lay his head upon. -- I don't regret it though. It is a pleasant thing to reflect that one did one's duty by him.'

I must admit that in Chapter 3 when Ralph is reading the advertisement for Dotheboys Hall, I had not heard of "fortification" as a class
...instructed in all languages, living and dead, mathematics, orthography, geometry, astronomy, trigonometry, the use of globes, algebra, single stick (if required), writing, arithmetic, fortification, and every other branch of classical literature."
Does anyone have any idea what fortification is?

In Chapter 5, when Miss La Creevy is talking about noses, I must admit to some confusion
'Snubs and romans are plentiful enough, and there are flats of all sorts and sizes when there's a meeting at Exeter Hall, but perfect aquilines, I am sorry to say are scarce...
I was under the impression that a roman nose and an aquiline nose were the same. Can anyone explain the difference?

Jan 7, 2:25pm Top

>71 rretzler: I wish I could give a good answer, but nope.

Google searches only really bring up military fortifications (which I'm hesitant to think is the right answer here). Considering the kind of place Dotheboys was, it wouldn't surprise me if fortification was some form of euphemism for corporal punishment (as a way of making the boys "stronger" mentally). That's just my wild guess, though, and I have absolutely nothing to back it up with.

And the internet seems to agree with you that Roman nose and aquiline nose are the same - though maybe there was some slight difference in meaning back in Dickens's day that's been lost to time?

Jan 7, 6:31pm Top

>72 PawsforThought: Yes, Paws, I googled both too and came up empty handed on the fortification.

This doesn't have anything to do with the book, but it was interesting to my family so I thought I would share. While I was looking at nose shapes, I also came across a picture of toe alignment. Apparently my older son and I have Egyptian toes and my husband and younger son have Greek toes. Who knew?

Jan 7, 7:05pm Top

I have just finished listening to Chapter 28 and really enjoying this one! I think Nickleby will actually overtake Great Expectations as my favorite Dickens read, at this rate!

>68 msf59: - The comedy really starts to pick up further in the book, Mark. Like Paws mentioned >69 PawsforThought:, some of the characters - Mr. Martalini, Sir Frederick Verisopht, etc - are very farcical/ridiculous characters and bring to mind some of P.G. Wodehouse's fabulous characters, like Freddie Threepwook from his Blandings stories.

Jan 7, 8:00pm Top

>71 rretzler: The boys at Dotheboys get a regular application of brimstone and molasses as a means of fortification, at least mrs Squeers says it keeps them from getting ill (as well as suppressing their appetites). Maybe mr Squeers was referring to that? I tried to look this brimstone treatment up but couldn't find anything about it.

>73 rretzler: I thin I have Roman toes;-)

Jan 7, 8:16pm Top

>75 EllaTim: Ella, I do recall reading the part about brimstone and treacle as a fortification, that must be it. Here's something I found Brimstone and Treacle: Teaching History of Medicine with Recipes and Aperient Medicines - Victorian Health and Medicine

Jan 8, 4:52am Top

>75 EllaTim: That is certainly it. I knew I'd heard (well, read) the term somewhere but couldn't remember where. Thank you.

I have Roman toes, apparently. Although in my family they're know as "the weird toes that I got from dad".

Jan 8, 7:23am Top

>76 rretzler: Thanks Robin, interesting links, especially the first One! So the brimstone and treacle treatment was a real remedy in those times. It sounds really awful.

>77 PawsforThought: Then Roman toes are a lot better, aren't they? :-;

Jan 8, 7:54am Top

I've completed 25 chapters and am 40% through the book.

Jan 8, 11:04am Top

I'm falling behind.....

Jan 8, 11:43am Top

>68 msf59:

Dickens' description of Newman Noggs and his bizarre contortions reminded me of the villainous Uriah Heep.

I'm up to Chapter 15 and see no comedy except in the gentle humor of the conversations between The Miniaturist and Nicholas.

Jan 8, 12:37pm Top

>80 EBT1002: So am I, Ellen.

Jan 9, 9:56am Top

Okay, finished Chapter 16, page 200. Still not much comedy but still quite entertaining and Newman Noggs remains my favorite.

Jan 9, 9:59am Top

>73 rretzler: This made me laugh. I think RD would rather talk about feet and toes, than read this book. Snickers...

It appears I am a Greek and the wife is an Egyptian, although she is very pale. An albino Egyptian, perhaps?

Jan 9, 2:25pm Top

Who knew I had Greek toes? My Welsh-Scotch-English ancestors would probably disown me.

I found this for noses. The difference between aquiline and Roman (>71 rretzler:) sure is subtle.

Jan 9, 10:15pm Top

>84 msf59: grins.

While my toes may be Egyptian, I'm blond-haired, blue-eyed, pale skinned with German, English, Scottish, Welsh ancestry. Don't know where my toes came from!

>85 jnwelch: Joe, I saw the same picture, and I sure couldn't see much difference. The Roman nose seems slightly longer and closer to the face than the aquiline, at least in this picture. Other sites I perused actually said that aquiline and roman noses were the same. There was some scholarly paper that I didn't bother to look at that said there were 17 types of human nose shapes. The things you learn when reading a book!

Jan 10, 9:22am Top

I don't imagine that Dickens would describe feet, but perhaps noses? I'll have to see if there are any nose shape references, starting at Chapter XVI, my having just finished another two chapters this morning and now being 10 chapters behind where I'd planned to be, through Chapter XXV by today.

It continues to be a very good read, and as with Great Expectations and Bleak House now that the preliminaries are somewhat out of the way, I'm more interested.

Jan 10, 12:04pm Top

>81 m.belljackson: "Dickens' description of Newman Noggs and his bizarre contortions reminded me of the villainous Uriah Heep." Me too!

Jan 10, 5:58pm Top

It's interesting to me that both Nicholas Nickleby and Newman Noggs have the same initials. Do you suppose that Dickens had some reason for it, or do you think it just was purely coincidental?

Edited: Jan 10, 6:14pm Top

^Okay, just started Chapter 25. 305 pages in. I like how the novel continues to take some interesting turns.

Jan 11, 5:58am Top

>89 rretzler: I have no idea, Robin. Maybe Dickens just likes alliterations?

A lot of people's names seem to say something about their character. Like Squeers, my iPad wants to change it to squeezes, or squires, I think of queer. But Newman Noggs? Does that name suggest anything to you?

Jan 11, 12:54pm Top

I'm still waiting for my copy, requested through ILL :(

Jan 11, 2:30pm Top

I'm with Nicholas > happy to be leaving London and any more Matalinis or Wititterlys.

Sure hope he meets with some more intriguing folks. Maybe the entrance of these characters,
like the stories told by the wrecked carriage passengers, speak more to being paid by the word...?

Jan 11, 4:56pm Top

>93 m.belljackson: The stories told by the wrecked carriage passengers, I could have done without those too. The book is wordy, sign of the times?

Jan 11, 5:10pm Top

>94 EllaTim: I'd say it's a sign of Dickens. All his novels (save possibly Oliver Twist) are wordy, aren't they?

Jan 11, 5:25pm Top

>95 PawsforThought: They certainly are! For the most part I don't mind. It makes the books cozy to read, I think.
But I do think every part of the story must have a function, and the stories told by the travellers seem to be very extraneous.

Jan 11, 5:44pm Top

>96 EllaTim: Yeah, I agree about the coziness.

It's been too long since I read the book for me to remember that specific part. Might be the Tom Bombadill of Nicholas Nickleby.

Jan 12, 11:45am Top

I read chapter 13 on the train this morning. I am so proud of Nicholas!

Jan 12, 2:20pm Top

I finished, and had fun reading it. Poor Smike! And hooray for Nicholas and Madeline, Frank and Kate and . . . Tim and Miss La Crevey.

Jan 12, 9:13pm Top

Barely halfway through and finding it hard to believe that even Dickens wouldn't be sick of the Wititterlys...
lucky Nicholas and Smike to be long gone!

Jan 13, 8:56am Top

>99 jnwelch: Congratulations on finishing Joe!

I'm getting ready to start chapter XIX.

Edited: Jan 13, 1:52pm Top

>101 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen! And thank you again for motivating me to read it with this group read. It would've been a shame to miss it.

Lovely review of the book by Ella here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/279784#6332533

Jan 13, 3:46pm Top

>102 jnwelch: Thanks Joe (and now I thought I had hidden it safely away in my own thread)

Jan 13, 4:54pm Top

I'm at 80% at the moment. I'd like to finish it tonight. Within the next 7 or 8 minutes I hope to resume reading and get to 90%. Then I'll pick it up early evening and hopefully finish it off! I just want to mark it off the list!

Jan 13, 5:26pm Top

>103 EllaTim: Ha! I hope your tongue is in your cheek, and that you don't mind, Ella. If you do, I'll delete the post. It would have been more polite to ask you. I just liked the review a lot.

Jan 13, 5:42pm Top

>105 jnwelch: No, I wasn't really serious Joe. Just having a wee bit of spotlight problems:-;

Edited: Jan 13, 5:46pm Top

>106 EllaTim: My bad. You can call me all sorts of names if that'll help any, Ella. Doofus comes to mind. :-)

P.S. I'll be sure to ask first, next time.

Jan 14, 12:29am Top

Busting in to say that I am in. Going to start in a couple of days.

>94 EllaTim: I think the novel is wordy because of Dickens' schedule. He was contracted to deliver a specified number of pages every month. The novel was published as a partwork or a serial. Periodically, a section of the book was published, and when all was done, the text was pulled together and published as a book.

Jan 14, 5:36pm Top

>108 weird_O: Wasn't that fairly common for many of his books?

Jan 14, 5:43pm Top

>108 weird_O: That's nice to know! So people had to buy a part each month, and was it published on its own, or in a magazine with other content?

Jan 14, 6:46pm Top

Love the discussion going on here. I am about to start Chapter 41. Interesting how the plot weaves around. Nicholas is quite the level-headed young man. Seems one must keep ones wits about them at all times in Dickens' world.

Jan 14, 6:55pm Top

Yeah, most (not sure it was all, but a great many of them) of Dickens's novels were initially serials published in magazines. (Magazines with other content, too.) He was hired by the magazine to write serials and the novels weren't published as novels until later.
That's why there's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter - to keep the readers interested in buying the next copy.

Jan 15, 12:42pm Top

I've just finished through Chapter XXIX. Kate is at the Wititterlys, Nicholas is with the acting troupe. Newman Noggs is actually the most interesting character to me so far, having helped Nicholas and looking to help Kate, too. Mrs. Nickleby reminds me a bit of Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice - hen-witted yet thinking herself smart, misreading people and things. Ralph Nickleby may or may not redeem himself.

It's finally really 'clicked' with me and I'm enjoying it.

Jan 16, 12:21pm Top

Ah, I haven't even started yet, as I haven't gotten to my fine edition in the storage locker (no real excuse, I know). Maybe this week.

Jan 16, 2:11pm Top

>113 karenmarie: I like that comparison to Mrs. Bennet. Uh-huh. Mrs. Nickleby might be even more self-centered, as Mrs. B was obsessed with getting her daughters well-married (understandable in the economic situation they faced), while Mrs. N. seems mainly concerned that her own insightful (!) misreadings of people and things are properly appreciated by others.

Jan 16, 7:04pm Top

I just finished Chapter 44 and was struck by the following observation. " A married woman has no property" but an unmarried woman was able to acquire/own property. In this case, the transfer of the Mantalini business, stock, house and everything in it to Miss Knag.. The dichotomy that a single woman appears to have had more rights than a married one left me with something to think about.

Jan 16, 11:56pm Top

I really have to step up my reading on N2 this week. The spoilers are tempting me too much.

Jan 17, 12:56am Top

>117 rretzler: Ditto... and I've read it before!, but much of the nuances and minor details had left me over the years.

Edited: Jan 18, 8:06pm Top

I'm still quite enjoying N2 but it's consuming a lot of my January reading time! (I can hear Richard's evil laugh in the background). I'm on chapter 30. Of 65 chapters. I might not finish it in January.

Jan 19, 9:21am Top

I'm on chapter XXXV (I love the Roman Numerals in my edition), chapter 35 to people who don't speak Roman Numeral. I will read some today - we're still pretty much housebound after 12" of snow on Wednesday.

Jan 19, 11:45am Top

>120 karenmarie: I'm also on Chapter 35 Karen!

>113 karenmarie: & >115 jnwelch: I came to the same conclusion that Mrs. Nickleby was as chatty and dramatic as Mrs. Bennet from P&P, but I'm a fan of Mrs. B! She had her mission to accomplish. Mrs. Nickleby seems quite useless. Mrs. B was too, but she did try to intervene and get those girls married.

Edited: Jan 20, 3:20pm Top

>121 luvamystery65: And no matter how you feel about Mrs B in the end she does accomplish her goal!

Jan 19, 3:02pm Top

For being surrounded by ENABLERS, Mrs. Nickleby reigns as Dickens most classic non-villain character.

She is so long-winded, tedious and boring that readers may welcome the intrusion of Ralph Nickleby just to shut her up.

Jan 19, 4:00pm Top

Jan 19, 8:33pm Top

>123 m.belljackson: On audio she was just awful, a reader can at least skip a few paragraphs.

Edited: Jan 20, 12:21pm Top

>122 kac522: Indeed

>123 m.belljackson: Ha ha Yes!

ETA: I am laughing out loud sometimes at this book. I know'd it was something aboot Sarah's Son's Head. Dost thou know thot? Saracen's Head.

Jan 20, 12:27pm Top

>113 karenmarie: and >115 jnwelch: and >121 luvamystery65: YES! I have made the same connection between Mrs. Nickleby and Mrs. Bennett! It's one of the great delights of reading N2.

>122 kac522: So true. And the motivation for achieving that goal is tremendous!

Jan 21, 11:06am Top

Late in the 40s chapters - what did Dickens have against SMIKE?

Jan 21, 3:02pm Top

Forgot to report in that I finished NN on Friday. Definitely one of the better Dickens reads for me so far. I was absolutely gobsmacked by the reveal in, I think it was Chapter 60 (hard to remember when listening to the audiobook).

Jan 22, 4:27pm Top

Only 61 more pages to go! Poor Smike has just died, and I think Ralph is about to get his comeuppance!

Jan 24, 3:07pm Top

>121 luvamystery65: Yay, Roberta. I’m glad that you also came to the same conclusion!

>122 kac522: She does, Kathy, indeed she does.

>123 m.belljackson: She is, Marianne. That’s what made me think of Mrs. Bennett. I am also forcibly reminded of Lord Peter Wimsey’s Mother, the Dowager Duchess, in her scattered conversations and veering from one subject to another in such a bewildering fashion! Although I must admit that at chapter XLIII, I am seriously put out with Ralph Nickleby. I don’t know whether he redeems himself – don’t tell me! – but right now I don’t want him near our Nicklebys ever again.

>124 jnwelch: Hi Joe.

>125 EllaTim: I can’t imagine listening to Dickens on audio, Ella – but that’s just me. You’re right about audio, though, it’s harder to skip some of the fat without cutting unintentionally into the meat. I’m very at home with the digressions, longwindedness and old-fashioned language of Dickens from other authors I’ve read, and am content to just meander through.

>126 luvamystery65: There are many puns, Roberta. I’m sure I’ve missed most of them, but did get that one.

>127 EBT1002: Hi Ellen!

>128 m.belljackson: Not quite that far yet, Marianne, but getting there.

>130 rretzler: Yay Robin!

Here’s an interesting observation on human nature that I really enjoyed reading in chapter XLIII – 43.
It is an exquisite and beautiful thing in our nature, that when the heart is touched and softened by some tranquil happiness or affectionate feeling, the memory of the dead comes over it most powerfully and irresistibly. It would almost seem as though our better thoughts and sympathies were charms, in virtue of which the soul is enabled to hold some vague and mysterious intercourse with the spirits of those whom we dearly loved in life. Alas! How often and how long may those patient angels hover above us, watching for the spell which is so seldom uttered, and so soon forgotten.

Jan 25, 8:42am Top

>131 karenmarie: I actually found that the audio helped me in understanding, especially with those long sentences I was having trouble with. A good reader divides them up naturally, gives important word some emphasis, etc.

Jan 25, 4:21pm Top

Passed the halfway mark yesterday. I am getting more comfortable with it; I just may get it finished in January.

I have to say that I've seen the 2002 movie version of N2 a couple of times, and certain episodes are vivid, particularly the Squeers (Jim Broadbent and Juliet Stevenson) and the Crummles family. I recall liking the film, though it was apparently a dog at the box office.

Just to gussy up the thread, here's Broadbent as Wackford Squeers:

Jan 25, 5:02pm Top

>133 weird_O:

This Squeers is likely safe from a Literary Halloween costume party!

With the surprise toward the end of N.N., it could have been titled Nicholas Twist.

Jan 28, 2:30pm Top

I finished NN last night. I really did enjoy this one. I think John Browdie will be a favorite Dickens character of mine. He was a lot of fun and his fast one on Squeers was great! In the end, he was kind to Miss Squeers. What a true friend he was to Nicholas.

Jan 28, 2:31pm Top

Thank you Karen. I am enjoying this yearly tradition.

Jan 31, 12:38pm Top

Last night, I decided to watch the 2002 movie Nicholas Nickleby. There were quite a few well-known actors - Christopher Plummer played Ralph, Jim Broadbent was Squeers, Anne Hathaway was Madeline Bray, Nathan Lane was Mr Crummles, Alan Cumming as Mr Folair, Timothy Spall (from the Harry Potter) as Charles Cheeryble and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) as Smike - who were marvelous in their roles. Lord Verisopht (Nicholas Rowe) looked very familiar to me - if you have seen the movie Young Sherlock Holmes, he played the title character. Lord Verisopht was portrayed as a more sympathetic character in the movie than in the book. The only bit of casting that didn't work well for me was Nicholas, himself. While I realize that Nicholas is young and handsome, Charlie Hunnam's looks seem more surfer-dude than 1830s England to me, and I just couldn't get past that. I thought the movie did a decent job of getting rid of a lot of the "fluff" in the book and just concentrating on the critical action. The movie received a 78% on Rotten Tomato.

Edited: Feb 1, 5:06am Top

Well, fellow NN readers, I finished about 15 minutes ago.

>132 EllaTim: I haven’t listened to any of Dickens on audiobook. I might try to find some just to hear the rhythms.

>133 weird_O: Yay Bill! And yay for finishing. Now that I’ve finished, I’ll look for the 2002 movie version. Jim Broadbent as Wackford Squeers is great.

>134 m.belljackson: Hi Marianne! I like that very much – Nicholas Twist. Brava.

>135 luvamystery65: Hi Roberta. Good for you. I love John Browdie, too, and found myself reading his dialog out loud – I’m not from Yorkshire directly; however, my paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather/mother were from Masham, Yorkshire. Dickens' ear for speech and rendering it phonetically gives a great idea of how Browdie would have sounded.

>136 luvamystery65: Uh-oh! Are we going to do another next year? *smile*

>137 rretzler: Hi Robin! I’ll be on the lookout for it too.

I’ll probably write a review tomorrow some time and post it on my thread with the link over here. My reviews tend to not have spoilers in them.

How’s everybody else coming along?

Edited to add: Here's my review. The one plot spoiler is hidden unless clicked. karenmarie's review

Feb 1, 8:12pm Top

>138 karenmarie: The full movie of N2 is on YouTube.

Feb 2, 9:49am Top

>139 weird_O: Ooh, thanks Bill! I really want to watch it sometime this weekend while everything's fresh in my mind.

Feb 4, 10:59pm Top

I know it's well into February but I picked up my Kindle today and started reading N2 again. I read exactly 50% of the novel in January and I plan/hope to finish it this month. I am absolutely enjoying it!

Feb 5, 8:12am Top

Hi Ellen!

Onward and upward. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Feb 14, 12:28am Top

Still making my way through, but slowly as I get distracted by other things....

Feb 14, 4:06pm Top

Slow and steady wins the race, Ellen.

Feb 19, 5:28pm Top

I know it's early but I nominate David Copperfield for 2019. ;-)

Feb 20, 10:20am Top

Early nomination noted, Roberta. *smile*

Feb 20, 11:02am Top

Having recently read both David Copperfield and Oliver Twist,
I'd vote for Oliver in 2019!

My review of Copperfield is the next to the last one on LT.

Feb 20, 11:58am Top

Still plugging along. I have a trip tomorrow so I'll have some airplane time for reading....

Feb 20, 6:01pm Top

I've probably read Oliver Twist more recently than David Copperfield. It really doesn't matter to me. I'd go along with either.

Mar 8, 12:39am Top

Well, finally finished listening to NN. I had read it before, and seen the 9-hour RSC production on video, so the story was familiar. What I'll take away from this reading by Simon Vance is how good some of the characters are. Like the Cheeryble brothers and John Browdie and Newman Noggs and Tim Linkinwater and the Crummles. Their goodness, without being sappy, overcomes all the evils of Ralph Nickleby and Squeers and Sir Mulberry Hawk. It is not so much the "hero" Nicholas himself, but the wonderful cast of thousands around him that makes it such a great story.

Mar 8, 7:24am Top

Congratulations, Kathy!

You're right about the goodness of some of the people. I was especially charmed with the Cherryble brothers.

Mar 8, 7:59am Top

>150 kac522: Well said, Kathy. I loved those characters, too, and also would put the Bros. Cheeryble at the top of the list.

Mar 8, 1:31pm Top

My first choice would be Newman Noggs as he manages to stay so decent while in such adverse circumstances

Mar 8, 5:18pm Top

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Mar 8, 5:29pm Top

>153 EllaTim: Yes, Ella. I liked the Cheeryble's, but I think I respected Newman Noggs just a little more. I liked John Browdie for a similar reason - he didn't let his prior experience with Nicholas get in the way of doing the right thing.

Edited: Mar 20, 3:14pm Top

Interesting article on the source for Mr. Squeers:


Article could have used an editor, though :(

Mar 21, 11:24pm Top

>150 kac522: I agree wholeheartedly even though I still haven't finished the book.

Mar 27, 7:38pm Top

My apologies to all. I intended, really, to reread this tome along with you, but my resolve melted. All I can say is I recall reading it before I saw the stage play(s) here in New York years ago; I was amazed to discover how Dickens could snarl and spit at the state of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed it then, and I'm sure I would have again.

May 11, 9:56pm Top

I finally finished!! Woo Hoo!!!

May 12, 8:02am Top

I saw the comments on your thread, Ellen. Congratulations!

Is anybody else still working away at it?

May 20, 4:36am Top

>160 karenmarie:
Hi, Karen,
I have finally started Nicholas Nickleby and I am finding it hilarious. I an finding the descriptions of how business is done very interesting and not far distant from presnt day activity. I can see that hype and the promise great profit are not recent inventions.

Thank you for prompting my reading of this wonderful entertainment.

May 20, 8:36am Top

Hi Peter!

I'm so glad you have started it and look forward to your opinion.

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