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The Battle of Life by Charles Dickens
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The Battle of Life

by Charles Dickens

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Hmmm. The Battle of Life is the fourth of Dickens' five Christmas novellas (and 13th of his 24 major works overall), but it certainly is one of my least favourite. Published at the same time as his underwhelming Pictures from Italy, the book strikes me as exactly what it is: a jobbing writer working on a piece of writing to fulfil a contract. It's a sentimental love story, really, about two sisters and a confused father-figure. It's quite gloopy, never really shows any purpose, and seems very confused - the eponymous Battle of Life sticks out as a strange piece of moralising without any tie to the story, given the battles in this novel are few, if any. Definitely one of the least of Dickens' canon, but I can't fault a man for earning money doing what he's talented at - there's still some beauty here, after all. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
What a truly bizarre story. I would put it in the melodrama category but I think it even goes past that and hard to figure out the point. I may be a bit more judicioius in my picking of Dickens's shorter works.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
This is the fourth of Dickens' series of Christmas books, but it is quite different from the earlier volumes. It lacks the supernatural element of the previous works, and is more like a long modern short story. After a theme setting prologue about an ancient battle field, the 'short story' starts briskly with the scene set (summer in the countryside) and characters introduced (two daughters of a country doctor, dancing among apple harvesters). It is very Somerset Maugham. Of course, it is Dickens, not Maugham, so the story ends with a complicated twist, and the obligatory happy ending. I enjoyed this book, perhaps because it was different in many ways from other Dickens' works - the writing is concise, the characters interesting without being caricatures, the comic elements understated. Wikipedia tells me that it is one of Dickens' lesser known works and has never attained a high. It seems that I am out of step with popular opinion. Read February 2012. ( )
  mbmackay | Feb 24, 2012 |
The fourth of Dickens' Christmas Books, I thought this one was the least Christmassy of the five books. Dickens uses a fictional battle which took place to illustrate the mental/emotional battles of life we all face. The tale follows Dr Jeddler who refuses to take anything in life seriously and his two beautiful daughters. It's a difficult book to describe without giving away too much of the plot but in the end, the self-sacrifice of his daughters leads to the reform of the Doctor. I enjoyed this book but thought the means by which the self sacrifice was achieved was a little bit unbelievable. 3.75 stars

Interestingly, Dickens himself was not completely satisfied with how this idea had been worked out in this short novella and was eventually persuaded by a friend to rework the idea in a full length novel which was called A Tale of Two Cities. ( )
2 vote souloftherose | Jan 1, 2011 |
I loved this short novel especially because, like Dr, Jeddler,one of the main characters, I have two delightful daughters who are all the world to me. It's Dickens-what more can I say? ( )
  markbstephenson | Jun 2, 2010 |
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