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Our Mutual Friend (1865)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,110931,629 (4.15)2 / 435
A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, "Our Mutual Friend" revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap's expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights "Noddy" Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes "the Golden Dustman." Charles Dickens's last complete novel, "Our Mutual Friend" encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt all who crave it. With its flavorful cast of characters and numerous subplots, "Our Mutual Friend" is one of Dickens's most complex--and satisfying--novels.… (more)
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English (89)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
Vastly disappointing. I have read most of Dickens' novels and found all of them engrossing from first to last (five stars). Until this. Our Mutual Friend is much verbosity about mostly vapid characters, for the first 40% of the novel, whereupon I gave up. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
This won't overtake Bleak House or Great Expectations as my all-time favourite Dickens novels but still loved it. It's packed with more marvellous characters and a wonderful plot that builds slowly to a breathless climax that you don't want to leave until you are sure that the unpleasant characters have received their just desserts (which they do) and the good (and indeed the two characters who become greatly improved) receive their reward (which they do). I adored the last chapter which was a wonderful dig at the snobs and heartless social climbers that Dickens clearly came across on a frequent basis. In homage to that chapter I would like to shake Dickens metaphorically by the hand and tell him a job well done. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
Usually it takes a bit to get into a Dickens novel but once I'm in I enjoy them. That was not the case here. I kept reading, but never really got interested in the characters or the various plots. A miss for me, alas. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 15, 2021 |
Meera Syal’s narration of this work, complete with a unique voice for each character, is the best performance I’ve heard on Audible and what a story!

As Dickens writes in an afterword, there are two major plot twists in this novel (John Rockville is the heir John Hanford and the Boffins were in on the secret all along), one of which is deliberately telegraphed to the reader very early on and the other completely disguised until the very end of the novel. The final twist is worthy of the Dallas reunion movie where it turns out that J.R. merely shot the mirror in the original series finale inspired by A Christmas Carol.

And along the way, we see Dickens at his most masterful in creating unforgettable characters and dialogue, skewering society, advocating for the poor and writing some of the finest landscape/riverscape descriptions I have ever had the pleasure to read. This is one of those books the reader savors. I found myself worrying that some particularly wonderful passages were not bound to be bound to my memory.

If pressed for what I liked best, I would have to say the characters and the dialogue: Ms. Jenny Wren, the dressmaker of children’s dolls, the Veneerings, Podsnaps and Miss Tiffen, dinner hosts and guests from hell, Betty Hidgins, a poor woman destined to die on the road, Mrs.Wilfer, who wants nothing more than to rise above her station, Mr. Venus the taxidermist and the unparalleled band of villains—Bradley Headstone, the stalking, murderous schoolmaster, the Lammles, the fortune hunters mutually deceived into marriage, Rodger Ridinghood a river rogue, and Fascinating Fledgby, the indolent “gentleman” looking for a scam and hiding his money-lending business behind the kindly Jew, Mr. Riah, and Charley Hexam, a poor boy with brains and ambition.

These characters are all much more interesting with richer lives, stories, dialogue, than the main characters driving the plot. With Dickens, the plot is just the structure around which the best parts of the novel are strung.

This could be the best Dickens I’ve ever read although Great Expectations will always hold a special place for me. I see that it often ranks among Dickens’ most beloved works, the other one that is frequently mentioned being Bleak House. It’s been at least thirty years since I last visited Bleak House and this experience tells me it’s time for a revisit. ( )
  dhinden | Jan 1, 2021 |
Dickens last complete novel is a story that looks at social conditions through the story of Harmon who's wealth is a "dust". He dies and his son an heir dies on the way to claim his inheritance. Lacking an heir, the inheritance goes to his servants the Boffins. Harmon was to marry Bella. Bella is a widow before she marries but she is taken in by the Boffins and is living off the inheritance that she would have had as the wife. The story looks at what money does to human nature. There are a plethora of bad guys, a plethora of characters. Bella insists she is going to marry for money therefore she is not a good person. She describes herself thus but when push comes to shove and she observes changes in Mr Boffin, she packs up and leaves. The secretary leaves when he is fired by Boffin. He marries Bella, proving her assessment of herself is not the fact. Lots of plot twists in this story. As with Dickens, so many stories are brought to conclusion and the ending is a satisfying ending. Dredgers are people who search for drown bodies to recovery their valuables. Dustman, a person who looks through people's garbage and repurposes things. And Mr Venus, the articulator of bones". There is the contrast of wealth and waste. There is also characters who are deformed, ill such as Silas Wegg and his wooden leg, the dying toddler Johnny Harmon and the daughter of an alcoholic, the dolls' dressmaker Jenny Wren, with her bad back and legs. Dicken's does a wonderful job with the character of Jenny as the daughter of an alcoholic, she becomes the parent of her drunkard father. A great story. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (163 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davies, E. SalterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dickens, Charles, Jr.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Egg, AugustusCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fildes, LukeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, J. HillisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poole, AdrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, MarcusIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, MartinIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LynnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Werner, HoniCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whitfield, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wynne, DeborahIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is inscribed by its author to Sir James Emerson Tennent as a memorial of friendship
First words
In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.
Quotations
"Why not possible, deary, when so many things are possible?" ~Mrs. Boffin
"You could draw me to fire. You could draw me to water. You could draw me to the gallows. You could draw me to any death." ~Bradley Headstone
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, "Our Mutual Friend" revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap's expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights "Noddy" Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes "the Golden Dustman." Charles Dickens's last complete novel, "Our Mutual Friend" encompasses the great themes of his earlier works: the pretensions of the nouveaux riches, the ingenuousness of the aspiring poor, and the unfailing power of wealth to corrupt all who crave it. With its flavorful cast of characters and numerous subplots, "Our Mutual Friend" is one of Dickens's most complex--and satisfying--novels.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434976, 0141199806

 

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