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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities (original 1859; edition 2003)

by Charles Dickens

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22,59929556 (3.93)4 / 849
Title:A Tale of Two Cities
Authors:Charles Dickens
Collections:Your library, Read in 2012
Tags:Classic Literature, 75er Group Tutored Read, TIOLI #1: Tag Round Robin

Work details

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

  1. 180
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (krizia_lazaro)
  2. 110
    The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska, Baroness Orczy (MarcusBrutus)
  3. 40
    Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (morryb)
    morryb: The French Revolutionary Mob becomes a character in each novel.
  4. 41
    The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: A main source of inspiration for Dickens in writing A Tale of Two Cities.

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Showing 1-5 of 281 (next | show all)
One of the classic novel we were asked to read during our junior days, I didn't appreciate it then but now having reread it I can say that Dickens indeed is a magnificent novelist I cant argue more with the mystery, suspense, humor and drama content of the book. I like Sidney Carton characters in this book as every event that happens in this book is somehow related to the plot. Great writing great classical literature that should not be missed. ( )
  Maddison18 | Apr 15, 2016 |
I read this in high school, and was enthralled from the first sentence. I just reread it by listening to it on audible, and was skeptical that I would be drawn in again -- especially at first because it took so long to set up all the characters and events. However, the magic happened, of course. One thing that stood out in the audio version was the Bible verse that played on Sidney's mind, which was so pivotal in his sacrificial act and was very important to the mental state of the British at that time.

( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
my son had to read it for grade 11 English class, so we read it together, then watched the 1935 film with Ronald Colman
  frahealee | Apr 3, 2016 |
Listened to as part of Craftlit podcast.
  nordie | Mar 20, 2016 |
Would give it six stars if I could. Lump in my goddamn throat. No words. No words at all. Please, please read this book.


Let me count the ways that I love this book. Actually, no - I cannot quantify my love for it. This book is one of the most absorbing and affecting things I have ever read. The prose is utterly perfect. The characters are perfect. The setting is arresting (no pun intended). I didn't think I would love a Dickens novel more than David Copperfield, but this is easily in my list of not just favourite books, but objectively best books I have ever read.

I understand why some people aren't fond of Dickens. His style, particularly grammatically, is very different to what most people expect from their reading. For example, he's deeply fond of commas, which seem to have died a bit of a death over the last century. And there are places in some of his novels where it does read like he was paid by the word. If you've ever had trouble "getting into" him, I'd recommend this as the perfect place to start; it's not as long as some of his novels, and, to my mind at least, there isn't a single piece of filler in it. Quite simply, this is a masterpiece.

I had previously read a children's retelling of the story when I was a child (Top Ten Dickens, which I highly recommend for youngish children - it's hilarious and it also has a lot of stuff in it about Dickens himself) and the story affected me similarly then, as it did now, if vastly less so. As such, I knew how the book was going to end. I did worry that this would cushion the book's impact somewhat. If anything, it heightened it. Sometimes, when you know what's coming, you spend the entire book anticipating - in this case dreading - it, and that was what I felt happened here.

Dickens's prose in this book is gorgeous. He builds the entire narrative from a few strands - a seemingly innocuous beginning - into a rich tapestry, the backdrop being the French revolution, and not a word is wasted. His pacing is excellent. So many authors could learn a lesson from this (including Dickens himself in other books) - you don't need to write thousands of pages about anything. Most stories can be told in far fewer words than that, and told better (not that I'm saying that all 1000 page books are unnecessarily long, but the vast, vast majority could do with being cut at least a bit). Dickens does a great job of building up dread, even in the places where it feels like there shouldn't be any, at all - for example, when Charles and Lucie get married. You don't ever feel like you're being rushed through event, but the pace is also never languorous. This is a beautiful book, evoking so much despair, and yet so much hope.

And the characters. What bastards some of them are. The only thing I could possibly, possibly have asked for is perhaps a little more depth to Lucie, but that's really by the by - she did occasionally seem like a bit of a "doll". Madame Defarge was deliciously brilliant though, her vendetta revealed little by little along with her depths - the way Dickens slowly uncovers more and more of her true nature and the reasons behind it is nothing short of genius. Miss Pross was also wonderful, and the comparison drawn between her and Defarge towards the end, mirroring a running theme of the relative powers of love and hate, is stunningly realised. And, oh, Sydney. You are responsible for having one of the greatest book ending monologues that has ever existed.

I don't want to say too much about the ending - as much as I think knowing what happened in some ways enhanced the book for me, it might not for others, and I obviously don't know what it's like to experience the book totally unspoiled. But it is, in my opinion at least, one of the most satisfying reading experiences I have ever had. And I'm reasonably sure that, had I not known what was coming, I wouldn't have been able to work it out until the last minute, despite how obvious it seems once you do know? Although, I can't say for certain; I might be wrong!

Who should read this book? Genuinely, there is no one to whom I would not recommend this. This is a book about human nature, about the power of love, but perhaps, even more, about the power of hate. It's a book that plays with big ideas, but never loses its human core - unlike so many other novels, it doesn't get bogged down in its own importance. It is a book that perhaps feels slight at 420 pages, but is in fact the perfect length. Truthfully, the only thing that could get in the way of the enjoyment of this is, I suppose, personal taste; however, I honestly think this book is a thing of beauty, and should be required reading for anyone with a soul that craves words. Five stars is not enough. This book has stolen my heart. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (71 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ben Sussan, ReneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Busch, FrederickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Busoni, RafaelloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haaren, Hans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koch, StephenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindo, Mark PragerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maxwell, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nord, JulieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PhizIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitt, David G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, AndrewEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schirner, BuckNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shuckburgh, Sir JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Theun deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, A.N.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodcock, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This tale is inscribed to the Lord John Russell in remembrance of many public services and private kindnesses
First words
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
It is a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Please do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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This book is in public domain in the USA and the e-book is available free online ...

Relates the adventures of a young Englishman who gives his life during the French Revolution to save the husband of the woman he loves.   

GUTENBERG.org is the origin for most of the human and well-edited FREE kindle editions online in various languages. Scam sites will ask for money for the hard work and titles which Gutenberg volunteers provide free. ARCHIVE.org provides a huge selection of FREE e-pub & PDF public domain titles in various languages also. (easily readable with the Free CALIBRE-ebook.com app]. Project Gutenberg is a great organization. They will never ask you for money before allowing you to download their books (though voluntary donations are welcome).   

Only SCAM SITES & CON ARTISTS will ask for money for the hard work and e-book titles which the Gutenberg volunteers provide free. Their latest bs? "You're paying for the ability to wi-fi your download." Really? So these con artists who steal Gutenberg's hard work then re-post what should be FREE e-books for sale .... rationalize it because they provide wi-fi downloads? Now that is a load of nonsense. Do you think these scammers are donating all the money back to the non-profit Gutenberg? I don't think so. Please don't patronize e-thieves or con artists. And don't let them gull you. How hard is it to plug your e-reader into your computer and do a manual download? Pretty damn easy. If you don't know how to do this, ask one of your grandkids to show you how.   

There are lots of free pre-1923 public domain kindle books on Amazon.com. [Type in 'free' and 'public domain' in the search bar.] Some current authors make their copyrighted e-books available free on Amazon and other sites also. [I would assume as a form of advertising and/or as a loss leader for a book series. Make sure to review their books as a thank you.]   

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Haiku summary
Two men look alike.
They love the same good woman.
They’re all in danger.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439602, Paperback)

After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:50 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the aging Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine. This edition uses the text as it appeared in its first serial publication in 1859 to convey the full scope of Dickens's vision, and includes the original illustrations by H.K. Browne ('Phiz'). Richard Maxwell's introduction discusses the intricate interweaving of epic drama with personal tragedy.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 64 descriptions

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59 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439602, 0141031743, 0141325542, 0141196904, 0141199709

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An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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