Classics Challenge - A Tale of Two Cities

So, Dickens. This was good but not very enjoyable. How's that for a conflicting review. I can't say it isn't well written. But several times during the course of my reading, I couldn't help but think of a funny quote of my late great uncle Arthur. Seeing as he was an English professor, I don't think he would really appreciate my using his words against Dickens when he first said it at my brother's graduation, loudly, about the keynote speaker, "my, how he does go on!"

Yep, that's Dickens. I've found that I'm not big on descriptive passages. I tend to skim them. I'm trying to stop that habit but this book really tried my patience. Another problem I had that probably made the ramblings much worse for me, isn't Dickens fault at all. I knew the story. I picked this Dickens book over several others (Great Expectations and David Copperfield) because I thought I knew less about it going in but turns out, I already knew how it ended. I'm not really sure how I knew. I've never read it in any form or seen a movie about it but CharlesDicken's works have just become so integrated in our culture that I guess its inevitable. And I can't really complain about "spoilers" when the book was written in 1859, at least not without being irritated by myself just as I was at the silly girls who got mad when people commented on future events in the comment section of Emma Approved. But I will say that if I had been able to read this as a weekly installment story back when he wrote it, I think I would have been a lot more intrigued.

I also felt fairly removed from the characters as I was reading. It's not that they weren't developed but more that I just didn't connect or care that much about them. Except Madame Defarge, I did want her to die.

I'm still glad I read it. If nothing else it shows me how easy it can be to read a book if you just plug away at it, one chapter a day. If I ever decide to try another Dicken's novel, and that's still a bit if at this point, I think I'll go with Bleak House. Not only is it considered one of the best, but I really like mysteries, especially when I don't know the ending, which I don't think I do with Bleak House.

A Tale of Two Cities in my 19th Century Classic selection for the Back to the Classics Challenge. To read more classic reviews, visit Books and Chocolate.


  1. I think one problem with reading Dickens now is that he's so imitated. The crazy plot twists (they look alike / they're related / he inherited an unexpected fortune, etc.) must have been groundbreaking at the time but now they're cliche.

    That said, I highly recommend Bleak House. It's definitely one of my Dickens favorites and there's a great mini-series to watch after you finish reading it. ;)

  2. I think the first 75% of Bleak House is excellent, but the ending is frustrating (but I also love A Tale of Two Cities, so your mileage may vary :)