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A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's…
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A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's Classics) (original 1859; edition 2008)

by Charles Dickens, Andrew Sanders (Editor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
21,05925668 (3.94)4 / 725
Member:eowynfaramir
Title:A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:Charles Dickens
Other authors:Andrew Sanders (Editor)
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2008), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Va Bch Library, Read but unowned, Great Fiction
Rating:****1/2
Tags:19C, fiction, 18C, France, England, British, author, Dickens, classic, class, riots, revolution, history

Work details

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

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English (246)  Spanish (5)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (256)
Showing 1-5 of 246 (next | show all)
Amazing! ( )
  Gorthalon | Dec 7, 2014 |
4.5 stars but I had to round it up!
A brilliant performance of a brilliant story. Well worth listening to.
( )
  Gorthalon | Dec 7, 2014 |
This is my second book by Charles Dickens. Compared to "Great Expectations", book moves relatively fast, yet each characterization still takes few chapters and narrative builds slowly. Since story is moderately fascinating but very slow moving, narrative long and reading dreg, enjoyment while reading is only related to style of writing and word play. But those aren't any more memorable after reading is finished. So one wonders why should book like this be read at all, except that it is a big classic?

Story does pick up speed by third part of book and book becomes pager turner. While end is predictable almost from first moment you get hint of escape plan, build up is laid out well and last chapter ends on emotionally high note. Dr. Manette's letter was a surprise twist. Overall, okay read and not bad.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Most characters are consistent but some characters and episodes could be dropped. Like events around Jerry's wife and episode of lawer planning to marry Lucy and then dropping the idea could be edited out. Only other problem is that book has too many too many well timed coincides. Madam Defarge turns out to be the wronged sister. No explanation is given why Sydney Carton is in France just at right time, and he happens to be conveniently placed where Solomon Pross is recognized as Barsad, the spy, and also overhears Madam Defarge's plan to have Lucy killed. Jerry digging the right grave is also coincidence. And so is Miss Pross's killing of Madam Defarge at right time. ( )
  ashishg | Nov 16, 2014 |
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. ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
Hands down my favorite Dickens' novel. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, this tale tells of the love, anger, jealousy, corruption and sacrifice. I don't want to ruin too much, but trust me- this is worth the read. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (73 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall 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
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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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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Book description
Relates the adventures of a young Englishman who gives his life during the French Revolution to save the husband of the woman he loves.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:07 -0400)

(see all 8 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 65 descriptions

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Editions: 0141439602, 0141031743, 0141325542, 0141196904, 0141199709

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