Barbara's Random Thoughts

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

I finished this over the weekend, and you know what that means? It means I finally completed that Winter Reading Challenge from 2006. Go, me. Also, I'm jumping ahead a little by saying this is book #5--I'm gonna have to circle back to another one I finished earlier, but I felt like writing about this one now. So I am.

Also also. I feel a little weird writing any kind of review of Tale of Two Cities, since it falls into that category of Books Everyone Else But Me Has Read. So make of this what you will.

Heather and I became obsessed with the card game Guillotine one summer on a mission trip, and a friend told us he was rather disturbed by the game since he was currently reading Tale of Two Cities. Now I know what he meant. The afternoon after I finished reading this book found me sitting in Starbucks, playing Guillotine with a friend and wearing my Les Miserables sweatshirt...and wondering if there might be something wrong with that. Yeah, probably.

Ok, so about the book. I love Dickens, contrary to what Lucinda thought. =) But the reasons I have loved Dickens in the past are not the reasons I found Tale of Two Cities so good. The Dickensian caricatures, the melodrama, the overabundance of completely implausible coincidences...I love it all. But then there's this other thread of seriousness and historical reality that runs throughout his work, and that's what I loved about Tale of Two Cities. I honestly did feel a little weird about playing Guillotine, making light of such serious events...after reading a novel that put me on those streets, in that time, imagining what it would have been like watching the bloodthirsty executions of the Terror.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the combination of these disparate elements. Caricature, melodrama, and serious historical reality dealing with social injustice. And, an author who can give such a good sense of a place that I feel like I was there. This is what I love about Dickens. Now I'm wanting to revisit Hard Times, because it had the same seriousness and social/historical reality that was so good here. Dang, where's that paper I wrote for Dr. Pickett about Hard Times? That was good stuff.

Next up for my fiction reading: A Far Better Rest by Susanne Alleyn--a book that imagines the missing events of Sydney Carton's life. Kristy got this for me ages ago, not realizing that I was the last person on earth over the age of 14 who hadn't read Tale of Two Cities. I'm not usually up for spinoff books, but I'll see how this goes. Either that, or I'll speed through Les Miserables before I leave for South Africa. Heh. =)

Labels: ,

| posted by Barbara | 3:37 AM