Monday, February 21, 2011

Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities

Do not, I repeat, Do Not read this book unless you have plenty of time to read and reread. Charles Dickens is an excellent writer, but his style is insanely figurative and descriptive; it was often difficult to figure out if something was actually happening or if he was just describing the landscape of the city. That being said, I haven't felt more proud of myself in a while. I finished a true classic, which I haven't even bothered to try in a while. A Tale of Two Cities, if you haven't guessed, takes place during the French Revolution, and follows a small cast of characters as they live their lives in London and Paris. You get to meet Lucie Manette and the venerable, but traumatized, Dr. Alexandre Manette, her father, as well as Mr. Lorry, a close family friend, and Charles Darnay, a man with a dark secret you'll discover by the end of the novel.

The novel opens with Mr. Lorry accompanying Lucie Manette to Paris, where her father, Dr. Manette, has been imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years. His loyal servant Defarge had kept him safe from the trials and tribulations of life on his own, but now Lucie takes her father back to London so he can be recalled to life.

5 years later, France is on the cusp of breaking into civil unrest, and the beginning of the French Revolution. Citizens are outraged by the aristocrats' selfishness and their arrogance, only exposed more so when the Marquis Evremonde runs over a baby in his carriage and simply yells at the townsfolk. His murder by the French revolutionary 'Jacques' incites the townsfolk into revolting against the aristocracy; the guillotine makes her grand entrance into the world as a blade of justice.

Clearly, I'm not prone to giving away the endings of books, so I'm gonna leave the last sections out of this review. I will say that once I started getting into this book, and truly understood what was going on, it picked up and got much more interesting. Dickens is a great writer, perfectly relaying the emotions of poor citizens during such trying times, and describing the landscapes so well I could imagine being in London or Paris in 1775 as well. A Tale of Two Cities gets a 7/10 by me, and I'm looking forward to reading more of his works.

Just keep my warning in mind; if you are not a fan of figurative language, descriptive and flowery prose, and ye olde english, you might want to have a copy of spark notes on hand for this read.

- Justin

PS, to appease the crew at Barnes & Noble, there will be other posts on my blog as well that aren't book-related. We just have so much fun at work, we need some kind of outlet for it all. I hope you enjoy the stories of life in a bookstore as much as we like creating those stories!

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