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Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
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Dombey and Son (1848)

by Charles Dickens

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
Oh my. It's a slog through the depths of pride and how it damages not just the bearers of the pride but those around them. The book opens with the birth of Paul Dombey, Jr., and the consequent death of his mother. The older daughter, Florence, is just six and already afraid of her place in the world: for her father, the world only exists for himself and his son; a daughter (and the necessity of a wife) are only useless appendages. Reading how the daughter is treated, the mother is seen as a bother (until her funeral, at which point she is forgotten) are still such relevant themes that this book should be required reading for those in the profession of counseling families. While some of the hyperbole of the pride of Mr. Dombey and his second wife, Edith, are products of Dickens' need to write more words, or perhaps used to bolster the plot twists, the overall effects of these characters' driving forces are still timely. Some of the minor characters were a bit overblown in Dickens' descriptions of them, such as Mr. Toots or Mrs. Pipchin, until their dialogue started. And then the timeliness? relevance? of these characters became relevant. Mr. Toots is so besotted with love for poor Florence and so unaware of his own worth in the world due to his schooling at Dr. Blimber's School that he becomes a long-winded, self-effacing sort who reminds me of many geeks trying to find their way in a world that has unwritten social rules they don't always grasp. And Mrs. Pipchin and her treatment of small children and servants? She reminds me of several elementary schoolteachers who decided the best way to train children was to make life hard for them. Heck, I've even worked for several Mrs. Pipchins, though not for very long. She may be seen as comic" by Dickens commentators or critics, but she is another minor character who still has her parallels in real life.

And then there's Cap'n Cuttle! What a great guy. His unwavering devotion to Sol Gills, Wal'r, and Florence are pure Dickens and provide some welcome Light into what is often a dark and despairing tunnel. His fear of his landlady, Mrs. MacStinger, is hilarious and brought some great comments during our bookgroup conversations. And let's not forget how well he ran the Midshipman in its owner's absence!

Finally, Florence and Edith. Two tragic characters, each with a different path, and each created to prove a point Dickens wants to make. They are given no true character development; rather, they are the foils to Dombey himself. Florence is his neglected daughter who never gives up hope that she will someday make her Papa love her and notice her with something other than anger. Through the pen of Charles Dickens, she never gives in to anger, hate, or cruelty, a true spirit of Victorian womanhood. We know now what happens with this level of neglect to a loving child, but for the purposes of this book and the Victorian views of the female character, those sides to her are never explored. Instead, Edith, Dombey's second wife, is as proud as her husband and as stubborn, and is "sold" into marriage because that is what happened to women of the upper classes. She never stops hating herself and seeking to destroy herself, proudly holding her head high as she stays aloof from Dombey and the world in which she has married into. Her one soft spot, the part that makes her most human, is her softness and love towards Florence. And Edith's self-hatred was easily a sympathetic part of her character, and she gives an excellent speech about why and what her life has become. I hold the highest esteem for her and what her character has to face." ( )
  threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
It was a happy day when I, for whatever reason, elected to sample Charles Dickens. Having read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, I digressed to more popular fiction (Michener, Clavell, McMurtry, King, Grisham), as well as periods of science fiction and even non-fiction (Ambrose, McCollough for example), before making an effort to upgrade my reading list.

I read some Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Steinbeck and Hemingway with mixed success before reading Great Expectations. I liked it enough to read David Copperfield, and I was hooked. A Tale of Two Cities followed and then Oliver Twist (not my favorite), Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, Martin Chuzzlewit and The Pickwick Papers before taking on this door stop of a novel.

Many of Dickens’s works tend to be lengthy and excessively wordy, perhaps due to their nature of having been serialized prior to being printed in a single volume. Heretofore, I haven’t found that trait particularly annoying or troublesome, however this book proved to be an exception. I can usually read for a couple of hours before going to sleep, but found myself nodding off after only 20-30 minutes of Dombey. There are fantastic characters here, as in all of Dickens’s work, but they tend to be smothered by the frequently flowery and seemingly never ending prose.

As in other Dickens works, a period of acclimation is required to become comfortable with the vocabulary and social conventions of the era. Having read almost all of Dickens’s work, I would have to rank this as my least favorite. ( )
1 vote santhony | Mar 30, 2016 |
I found this a bit hard-going in places. Highlights included Captain Cuttle's fear of Mrs MacStinger, little Paul's conquering of Mrs Pipchin, all the scenes at the Blimbers and any including Mr Toots. Mr Dombey and Mr Carker were excellent villains. But... Alice and her mother were tiresome, I found it hard to believe in the friendship between Mr Dombey and Major Bagstock, Edith behaved incomprehensibly to me from start to finish, Mr Morfin pops up more or less from nowhere and then there is Florence. Florence is unrelentingly perfect and the idea that she would ask her father for forgiveness for leaving him was too much! ( )
  pgchuis | Feb 19, 2016 |
I hated Dickens in high school, but I've recently rediscovered him and found that he's not that bad. He can be hit or miss though.

Dombey and Son contains all the typical Dickens elements. Some chapters are hilarious and leave you wanting more. Some are nothing but moralizing on the state of the poor in London, which is acceptable. And some chapters are downright boring and largely pointless. I have yet to test this theory, but it seems to be par for the course with Dickens.

Overall, I have yet to find anything by Dickens that wasn't worth reading. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Recently listened to this book again. Found the reading a bit overdone (the second reader I tried and this can be a problem consistently with Dickens audiobooks). But I love Dickens. This, while not my favorite, is a satisfying read. Faling into the verbal world of a long book (enjoying much on the long Christmas drive between California and Washington) is one of life's true pleasures. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bourne, John CookeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fairclough, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrod, H. W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitz, Henry C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pryce-Jones, AlanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timson, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Williams, RaymondIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.
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She brings daily in her little basket ... in sheets of curl-paper, morsels of cold meats, tongues of sheep, halves of fowls, for her own dinner.
They were black, cold rooms; and seemed to be in mourning, like the inmates of the house. The books precisely matched as to size, and drawn up in line, like soldiers, looked in their cold, hard, slippery uniforms, as if they had but one idea among them, and that was a freezer. The bookcase, glazed and locked, repudiated all familiarities.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140430482, Mass Market Paperback)

To Paul Dombey, business is everything and money can do anything. He runs his family life as he runs his firm: coldly, calculatingly and commercially. The only person he cares for is his little son, while his motherless daughter Florence craves affection from her unloving father, who sees her only as a base coin that couldn't be invested'. As Dombey's callousness extends to others - from his defiant second wife Edith to Florence's admirer Walter Gay - he sows the seeds for his own destruction. Can this heartless businessman be redeemed? A compelling depiction of a man imprisoned by his own pride, "Dombey and Son" (1848) explores the devastating effects of emotional deprivation on a dysfunctional family and on society as a whole.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:46 -0400)

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A powerful man callously neglects his family, triggering his personal and professional downfall.

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Audible.com

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

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435468, 0141199911

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