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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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One of Dickens' longest novels charts the history of the Dombey family - the father who owns the business and wants to leave it to his son, and the daughter he ignores. Not Dickens' best - the novel needs more focus than it has, and moves too slowly. There's his common problem as well, that the daughter Florence is an odd mix of purity and total lack of self-esteem; she is hard to believe in, and occasionally made me uncomfortable when her endlessly submissive behaviour was presented as some sort of feminine ideal. That said, there is some great writing, some fun characters and great scenes, even if he never really nails it like he does in other books. One for Dickens completists. ( )
  roblong | Mar 5, 2014 |
Although this is not one of Dickens’ more well-known novels, and it is described as problematic, I found it quite engrossing and rewarding. Certainly, it does not have the lightheartedness of some of Dickens’ other novels, and in the psychological complexity, it reminded me more of Henry James than of Dickens. Chronologically, it comes just before his more mature biographical books, and looks like a step towards those books.
The story of Paul Dombey junior, who has a sad life and dies early, is sentimental, although Dickens shows his skill in touching the reader in such a simple story. The story of Paul Dombey senior is sadder in his (almost) life-long arrogance, pride and emotional withdrawal. His sentimental turn at the end is undeserved, merely the contrivance needed to make the Victorian readers buy the next issue.
The story of Mrs. Dombey, although heavily contrived as well, is the set-up needed to explore the relationship between Dombey and those around him. She is excluded from power by the social mores of the time, and escapes only be running away with her cousin, but the psychological fight between her and her husband is epic. It makes the pain, fury and frustration of her situation clear, and could stand as an early look at women’s property and marital rights, much like the Galsworthy saga did much later.
The story of Florence, Dombey’s daughter, is the emotional centre of the story, although a highly idealized one, weakened for a modern audience by her flawless purity and self-sacrifice. In spite of that, a reader has to sympathize with her as a lonely, motherless child who wants only to get some recognition from her father but who is completely ignored by him. When she is used as a tool to poison and manipulate the life of her step-mother, you have to feel for her emotional anguish, and feel relief when she is finally able to leave the family home and find a blissful life with her true love.
The minor characters, as in the best of Dickens, are droll and entertaining caricatures. Their sub-plots are not very credible, but they lighten a tone that would otherwise be very somber, and they also give a social context in which the psychological drama of the main characters has to be understood.
This was a long slow read, but I enjoyed coming back to it and felt some sadness as it came to its final end. ( )
  rab1953 | Oct 11, 2013 |
Very Dickensian, which I love, with a large cast of characters & trials and tribulations ending with punishment for the wicked and virtue rewarded.

Mil Nicholson did a marvelous narration for Librivox! ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
Paul Dombey, Sr., is a real piece of work! ( )
  SusannainSC | May 4, 2013 |
This novel has it all, the amazing names, the odd characters, the social commentary. Dickens seems to have attempted here a novelization of a Greek classical tragedy, but in the end, after hubris brings ruin, Dickens wraps up almost all the plot threads with marriages and general felicity. Good reading, especially on a long plane flight or three! ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (51 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
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:24 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

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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