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Dombey and Son (1848)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,715523,167 (3.98)208
Mr. Dombey's idealistic vision of his "Dombey and Son" shipping firm rests on the shoulders of his delicate son Paul. However, when the firm faces ruin, and Dombey's second marriage ends in disaster, it is his devoted daughter Florence, unloved and neglected, who comes to his aid.This new edition contains Dickens's prefaces, his working plans, and all the original illustrations. The text is that of the definitive Clarendon edition, which is supplemented by a wide-ranging Introduction that highlights Dickens's sensitivity to the problems of his day, including those of familyrelationships, giving the novel added depth and relevance. The Notes and Bibliography have been substantially revised, extended, and updated.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

Mr. Dombey is part of the social elite who pins all his hopes on a son joining his business, while ignoring the existence of his daughter.

Since I am not an expert on Dickens, I won't even attempt to go into the social and political themes presented in this story. I really liked the first third of the book but eventually most of the characters felt like caricatures. The good were angelic, the absurd were very absurd, the proud were prouder than a peacock, but many seemed one dimensional. If readers can make it through the slog-like final third of the story and overlook some really odd occurrences inserted to make the plot work, there is some redemption be found in the end.

I was glad to have read this once but it definitely is not my favorite novel by Dickens. [b:Great Expectations|2623|Great Expectations|Charles Dickens|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1631687432l/2623._SY75_.jpg|2612809] and [b:A Christmas Carol|5326|A Christmas Carol|Charles Dickens|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1406512317l/5326._SY75_.jpg|3097440] still remain at the top of my favorites list. ( )
  Ann_R | Aug 7, 2023 |
What a wonderful world... dear Charles D.

‘but it’s of no consequence. I hope’

And the voices in the waves are always whispering to Florence, in their ceaseless murmuring, of love—of love, eternal and illimitable, not bounded by the confines of this world, or by the end of time, but ranging still, beyond the sea, beyond the sky, to the invisible country far away!

(location 120199)

Florence asked him what he thought he heard. ‘I want to know what it says,’ he answered, looking steadily in her face.

‘The sea’ Floy, what is it that it keeps on saying?’ She told him that it was only the noise of the rolling waves.

‘Yes, yes,’ he said.

‘But I know that they are always saying something. Always the same thing. What place is over there?’

He rose up, looking eagerly at the horizon.

She told him that there was another country opposite, but he said he didn’t mean that: he meant further away—farther away!

(location 103395)

It is when our budding hopes are nipped beyond recovery by some rough wind, that we are the most disposed to picture to ourselves what flowers they might have borne, if they had flourished; and now, when Walter found himself cut off from that great Dombey height, by the depth of a new and terrible tumble, and felt that all his old wild fancies had been scattered to the winds in the fall, he began to suspect that they might have led him on to harmless visions of aspiring to Florence in the remote distance of time.

(location 104045)

The very speed at which the train was whirled along, mocked the swift course of the young life that had been borne away so steadily and so inexorably to its foredoomed end. The power that forced itself upon its iron way—its own—defiant of all paths and roads, piercing through the heart of every obstacle, and dragging living creatures of all classes, ages, and degrees behind it, was a type of the triumphant monster, Death. Away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, from the town, burrowing among the dwellings of men and making the streets hum, flashing out into the meadows for a moment, mining in through the damp earth, booming on in darkness and heavy air, bursting out again into the sunny day so bright and wide; away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, through the fields, through the woods, through the corn, through the hay, through the chalk, through the mould, through the clay, through the rock, among objects close at hand and almost in the grasp, ever flying from the traveller, and a deceitful distance ever moving slowly within him: like as in the track of the remorseless monster, Death!

(location 107563)

There were some children staying in the house. Children who were as frank and happy with fathers and with mothers as those rosy faces opposite home. Children who had no restraint upon their love, and freely showed it. Florence sought to learn their secret; sought to find out what it was she had missed; what simple art they knew, and she knew not; how she could be taught by them to show her father that she loved him, and to win his love again.

(location 109040)

‘My lad,’ said the Captain, whose opinion of Mr Toots was much improved by this candid avowal, ‘a man’s thoughts is like the winds, and nobody can’t answer for ‘em for certain, any length of time together. Is it a treaty as to words?’

(location 113873)

‘If so be,’ returned Bunsby, with unusual promptitude, ‘as he’s dead, my opinion is he won’t come back no more. If so be as he’s alive, my opinion is he will. Do I say he will? No. Why not? Because the bearings of this obserwation lays in the application on it.’

(location 114038)

‘Certainly, Miss Dombey,’ says Mr Toots, ‘I—I—that’s exactly what I mean. It’s of no consequence.’

‘Good-bye!’ cries Florence.

‘Good-bye, Miss Dombey!’stammers Mr Toots. ‘I hope you won’t think anything about it. It’s—it’s of no consequence, thank you. It’s not of the least consequence in the world.’

(location 114674)

When we shall gather grapes from thorns, and figs from thistles; when fields of grain shall spring up from the offal in the bye-ways of our wicked cities, and roses bloom in the fat churchyards that they cherish; then we may look for natural humanity, and find it growing from such seed. Oh for a good spirit who would take the house-tops off, with a more p

(location 116268)

‘Hooroar, my Heart’s Delight!’ vociferates the Captain, with a countenance of strong emotion. ‘Hooroar, Wal’r my lad. Hooroar! Hooroar!’

(location 120127)

( )
  NewLibrary78 | Jul 22, 2023 |
I took six weeks to read the first half of this and one week to read the second half. Typical for Dickens, it starts off with plenty of interesting stuff--characters and situations--devolves into a diffuse bit of messing around with the characters, and ends with an intense surge of plot into a satisfying resolution. ( )
  judeprufrock | Jul 4, 2023 |
"for not an orphan in the world can be so deserted as the child who is an outcast from a living parent's love"

The Dombey of the title is the wealthy owner of a shipping company who dreams of having a son and heir who will be able to carry on the family business. Dombey gets his wish but when she dies shortly after the birth, she leaves her son, Paul, to become the sole focus of his father’s attention despite Dombey already having a six-year-old daughter, Florence. Florence loves her father and does her best to please him, but it’s obvious that all of Dombey’s hopes and ambitions lie with Paul and that Florence is simply an inconvenience.

For Dombey the world exists only to further the interests of his family business and consequently the plot revolves around the destruction of Dombey's arrogant, selfish pride and whether or not he will ever come to love and value his daughter as she deserves.

This is a hefty tome numbering well in excess of 900 pages but thankfully there aren't too many characters to get confused about and some of these like Major Bagstock, Sir Barnet Skettles and Cousin Feenix actually add little to the central plot. There is however, a cracking villain, James Carker, the scheming manager of Dombey and Son, with gleaming white teeth and a devious brain. There are also some great minor characters, in particular Captain Cuttle, the kind-hearted retired sea captain with a hook for a hand, and Susan Nipper, Florence’s loyal nurse; one of the few people who stands up to Dombey over his neglect of his daughter.

It's this last character that is particularly interesting. Dickens gets a lot of criticism for his treatment of female characters but the women in this book are well-drawn and interesting. Yes, Florence can be too good to be true at times, but her father’s rejection of her is so cruel and hurtful that it’s impossible not to have sympathy for her. Her stepmother, Edith Dombey, though, a woman filled with self-loathing after being pushed into marriage by her mother, who then decides to take her fate into her own hands is the strongest female characters that I’ve come across in a Dickens novel thus far. The novel really shines a light on the oppressed position of women in society at that time and I found the faded gentility of Mrs Chark and Louisa Tox quite enlightening as well.

This is my fifth Dickens novel to date and my least favourite thus far. Although I enjoyed parts, other sections dragged and it seemed to lack some of the subtle humour that I had come to expect in his works. I also felt that the absence of a 'hero' meant that the plotting and structure felt a little off. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Jun 6, 2023 |
A very high three stars. This book has some very funny passages, and a lot of emotion. It's not one of the greatest Dickens works, and it definitely loses some of the drive after the major tragedy one-third of the way into the book, however it is still very interesting, full of fascinating themes and characters. The 14th of Dickens' major works, and the seventh of his novels, Dombey and Son sits very comfortably in the second act of Dickens' life, in which his social and communal responsibilities slightly lowered his novel-writing output, and his desire for integrated works of character growth and investigation - begun with Martin Chuzzlewit - is in full swing.

Perhaps it's because the first third, with the aching characters of Paul and Flora, and young Paul, is so strong and unified, that the gradual splintering of the plot leads one to feel a little bit underwhelmed as things move toward a climax. The climax itself, being in many ways an emotional rather than narrative one, is also unlike anything Dickens had previously entertained. It's really rather powerful at times. As I said, this is a high three-stars, but it definitely just creeps into my Dickens Top Ten. ( )
  therebelprince | May 1, 2023 |
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» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dickens, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bourne, John CookeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fairclough, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furniss, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrod, H. W.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Griffin, CharltonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitz, Henry C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pryce-Jones, AlanAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, Andrewsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timson, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, AinoTranslatorsecondary 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.
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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Mr. Dombey's idealistic vision of his "Dombey and Son" shipping firm rests on the shoulders of his delicate son Paul. However, when the firm faces ruin, and Dombey's second marriage ends in disaster, it is his devoted daughter Florence, unloved and neglected, who comes to his aid.This new edition contains Dickens's prefaces, his working plans, and all the original illustrations. The text is that of the definitive Clarendon edition, which is supplemented by a wide-ranging Introduction that highlights Dickens's sensitivity to the problems of his day, including those of familyrelationships, giving the novel added depth and relevance. The Notes and Bibliography have been substantially revised, extended, and updated.

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Average: (3.98)
1 4
2 16
2.5 6
3 82
3.5 25
4 184
4.5 18
5 131

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140435468, 0141199911


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