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Our Mutual Friend

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  15,851 ratings  ·  845 reviews
Charles Dickens's last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend is a glorious satire spanning all levels of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Adrian Poole in Penguin Classics. Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmon's profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and ki ...more
Paperback, 884 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1864)
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He do the Police in different voices
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage
Our Mutual Friend

What do we have here but mounds of dust - garbage - and an “old rascal who made his money by Dust", who grew rich ‘as a Dust Contractor, and lived in a hollow in a hilly country entirely composed of Dust. On his own small estate the growling old vagabond threw up his own mountain range, like an old volcano, and its geological formation was Dust. Coal-dus

Anyone familiar with LOST understands where I'm coming from here, but just in case you're stuck under a rock and have never watched the show (looking at you, Josiah) the above cupcake image is the character, Desmond Hume. Our Mutual Friend is associated with him on the show - it's the one book he claims he will read before he dies and we find later he has named his boat - wait for it - Our Mutual Friend.

With that said, this connection to LOST is absolutely not the reason why I decided to read th
Christopher H.
In completing Our Mutual Friend, I believe that I may well have just finished reading the finest book written in the English language. One could perhaps argue that the prose of Austen in her novel Emma is more perfect; but the plotting and characters of Dickens in Our Mutual Friend is exquisite. Our Mutual Friend rivals Tolstoy’s War and Peace in breadth, scope, scale, and number of characters; but while War and Peace proceeds forward majestically in a linear fashion; Our Mutual Friend, like Dic ...more
Paul Bryant
Before Goodreads, before the Internet (aka the dark ages) I kept a list of Books Read and I've finally added them all in here. On that list is Our Mutual Friend. The title is right there, in my handwriting. So I must have read it. As it is 900 pages long, you would think I'd remember it, but I don't. In fact I had thought it was the one remaining Big Dickens I hadn't read & was saving it for a rainy day, or 90 rainy days. Now I am wondering if I was possibly not sober when I added it to my B ...more
Grace Tjan
3.5 stars


What I learned from this book (in no particular order):

1. You can use the same adjective 19 times in a short chapter to describe a single character and still be considered a great literary stylist. Yes, I get it, Mr. Dickens: Bella’s adorable father is CHERUBIC.

2. It is perfectly acceptable to deceive your wife-to-be, and even marry her under an assumed identity, for the noble purpose of ascertaining her moral worthiness.

3. Once you are convinced that she is no gold-digger, sh
MJ Nicholls
Better to read Dickens in week-long rushes—serialised readers, without the aid of Wiki or plot recaps, will have to summon the heroic powers of recall commonly the resource of Victorian bookworms. How torturous to be put on tenterhooks for months as to John Rokesmith’s identity enigma, to think of the vagabond Wegg ruining the sweet old Mr Boffin. Perhaps now, at the end of my Monster Dickens reading, it is pertinent to ask of these novels—page-turners of their day, morally instructional enterta ...more
Bill  Kerwin

Not up to the level of the great late novels, Bleak House and Little Dorrit. Still, this novel that symbolizes money as a series of "dust mounds" (huge heterogeneous piles of waste, primarily of cinders and ash, waiting to be recycled as bricks)owned by the "Golden Dustman" has a lot to say about the growing evil of avarice in a money-mad society.

It also contains harrowing glimpses of riverfront lowlife contrasted with wonderful comic scenes of noveau riche display, a particularly vicious pair
The white face of the winter day came sluggishly on, veiled in a frosty mist; and the shadowy ships in the river slowly changed to black substances; and the sun, blood-red on the eastern marshes behind dark masts and yards, seemed filled with the ruins of a forest it had set on fire.

Seven months of nibbles, most of these clusters, all braced with serious efforts to remember characters, enlisting wikipedia and rereading, rather often, entire chapters. I'm glad I read such, though I felt most of t
Oct 21, 2008 R. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if I was supertired or Dickens gawt slawppy, but I spent three pages last night thinking I was reading about the inner life of a dinner table the family had nicknamed "Twemlow".

The confusing to passage: There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street, Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twemlow. Being first cousin to Lord
Henry Avila
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It’s many a year since I picked up this book, and reading it through it now I did find myself wondering whether this was a favourite of Samuel Beckett’s. After all it’s the novel with three large dust piles sat in a yard - which may, or may not, contain valuables - and a one legged, ‘literary’ man who scours through them. (It is certainly echoed in ‘Happy Days’). Furthermore there is a young/old, tiny and crippled maker of clothes for dolls, and a character with a death-like name who – as his ho ...more
Lance Greenfield
I first read Our Mutual Friend when I was thirteen years old, and I awarded it five stars on Goodreads based on my memory of that first read. I always remembered this as my favourite Charles Dickens novel, and I am still strongly of that opinion. If I could award it yet another five stars, I would. This is a classic masterpiece.

Yards of literary analysis has been written about this book over the decades, and I could not possibly compete with those who have written before me. After all, English L
Ayu Palar
May 31, 2009 Ayu Palar rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sherien, Sindro, Dini, Boof
As Dickens got older, his novels were getting gloomier, either the themes or the tones. In Our Mutual Friend, the readers are taken to the dark side of Victorian society. And by dark, I do not always mean the world of the working class. In fact, here we’re served with the high class society, whose obsession with money disgusts me as the reader. Come to the dinner table of Mr. Veneering and you’ll know what I mean.

The main plot (since there are a couple of plots here) is about a gentleman named J
4.5 stars.

I would have given this 5 stars except that there were certain passages (too many in my opinion) which were too obviously Dickens getting on his soapbox and not really relevant to the story. Dickens does this in most (all?) of his novels and I have often enjoyed the sarcastic wit in these asides but for some reason, I found them less funny and more bitter in this novel & therefore less enjoyable. (I will try to track down some examples to include here later)

The plot itself I loved.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to review this novel at all, because it’s such a novel. It’s intimidating enough to look at, let alone to read, let alone to write about.
This decision, upon whether I would write a review for it or not, was pending…until I struck upon the following…

“ ‘One of Mr. Dancer’s richest escretoires was found to be a dung heap in the cow house; a sum but little short of two thousand five hundred pounds was contained in this rich piece of manure.’ ”

Well, as I toppled over,
Jun 04, 2012 karen marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
i am horrible. i meant to read this on my vacation, but i got 100 pages in and then there was drinking and i was reading it... compromised and then the week after that, i got the flu or something, and for the past few weeks i have been so involved in a slow nervous breakdown, that i have not picked this up since then. i am going to re-start this after ALA, and everything will be good with a clean slate and i won't feel so much guilt over my short attention span.

i suck.
Along with the usual(I find hilarious)Dickensian caricatures, this book contains one of my most passionate literary crushes, Mr. Eugene Wrayburn. I love Dickens and enjoy novels, but I've rarely wished so much that I could meet a character in real life. Eugene is hilarious and suffers from ennui, observe: "'Generally, I confess myself a man to be doubted,' returned Eugene, coolly, 'for all that.' 'Why are you?' asked the sharp Miss Wren. 'Because, my dear,' said the airy Eugene, 'I am a bad idle ...more
Feb 08, 2008 Burt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of language
I started by listening to this book on my iPod via audiobooks. The story is so complex and the language so achingly well done that I finally bought it just to look at the words because hearing them is not enough.

Reading them is better. I believe this is Dickens' last work; it may well be his best. It's long (the guy was paid by the word) but, like all his works, it is well worth the effort.
Ai nostri giorni (non è necessario indicare l’anno con maggiore esattezza) una barca d’aspetto sporco e poco rassicurante, con dentro due persone, andava sul Tamigi tra il ponte di Southwark, che è di ferro, e il ponte di Londra, che è di pietra, sul finire di una sera d’autunno.
Le persone che stavano dentro questa barca erano un uomo dai capelli grigi arruffati e dal volto abbronzato dal sole, e una ragazza bruna di diciannove o vent’anni, che gli somigliava abbastanza: si poteva riconoscere pe
“They were all silent for a long while. As it got to be flood-tide, and the water came nearer to them, noises on the river became more frequent, and they listened more. To the turning of steam-paddles, to the clinking of iron chain, to the creaking of blocks, to the measured working of oars, to the occasional violent barking of some passing dog on shipboard, who seemed to scent them lying in their hiding place. The night was not so dark but that, besides the lights at bows and mastheads gliding
Although it is probably an impossible question to answer, if anyone asks me 'what is the best book you have ever read?', my answer is always Our Mutual Friend. I have read it three times,and you really should read it at least once!
A few more of my thoughts onOur Mutual Friend.

(view spoiler)
Nancy Oakes
First: a word of warning: if you are intending to read the Modern Library Edition of this book (the one I own), do NOT read the introduction first! I did and I was incredibly sorry, because it gives away the show as far as the "mystery" part of this book. OH! I was SOOOO disappointed and I couldn't believe anyone would do that right at the front of the book. So now I have a new practice: I will only read introductions at the end.

Second: Who would like this book? Well, it's one that readers of Di
Sherwood Smith
One thing that one has to accept with Dickens is that his heroines will be long-suffering, and that men will decide what's good for them, for which they will be grateful.

Given that, I think this the best of his books.

It has the fewest Victorian-plot coincidences, and it has the most and best swathes of bitingly funny satire of soi-disant high society. How the Lammle marriage comes about, and how each of them, in becoming a couple, brings the other down from spoken moral rectitude to the barest
Karl Steel
If you've read it, you know that the ending runs counter to the whole theme of the universal infection caused by money. Dickens gets his liberal umbrage and his liberal cake. I'm sure Eagleton et al. have done this to death, so there's no compulsion to repeat. Let me just comment on Riah, via this complaining nineteenth-century note, a wonderful symptom of the medievalism (Isaac of York! Hugh of Lincoln) at the heart of 'Englishness' of this period and indeed the present day (looking at you Mor ...more
Charles Dickens' penultimate novel, and last complete one, is a compendium of the best and worst of his art. The characters are present, perhaps too many, but they lack the fresh life an spirit of earlier works like Dombey & Son or Bleak House.
The metaphors are present, but the waters of Our Mutual Friend are dark and foreboding, ultimately leading to death; while the waters of earlier works, such as Dombey again, hold the promise of life. It seems that Dickens is worn out and it shows in th
Dickens doesn't get any better than this. The heroines are complex and engaging, and he has *so* much to say about the state of his corrupt society. It's really more about money than anything else. Not a single character (from Lizzie, who'd prefer not to think about money, to Bella the "mercenary little wretch", to Charley, the ACTUAL mercenary wretch, to Mr. Boffin and Mr. Wegg and the Lammles) doesn't benefit from the (mis)fortunes of anyone else, which is sort of universally true.

Anyway, it'
I really enjoyed this novel. The characters are remarkable in their actions, talks and features. The female protagonists, Bella, Lizzie and Jenny, are splendidly portrayed. I admired Lizzie mostly. Money is also portrayed there. You’ve read the novel, so you know what I’m talking about. Many paragraphs (and chapters) are fun and pleasure to read, in the sense of the literary dexterity and amusement in general. Though, I found the first half of the book a bit slow, with some passages not adding m ...more
Although not at all liked by the critics of the time, I thought this book to be a powerful story of love, hate, mystery, pathos and a large amount of the psychological thrown in to make it ever so engaging. Money makes the world go round and certainly in this novel that old adage is true. Dickens has passed his judgement on the social aspects of his society and we come away after reading this novel with a great insight into Victorian ways.

As always many characters are present in Dickens's novel
Kurt Reichenbaugh
"...think how terrible the fascination of money is! I see this, and hate this, and dread this, and don't know but that money might make a much worse change in me. And yet I have money always in my thoughts and my desires; and the whole life I place before myself is money, money, money, and what money can make of life!"

This is a darker Dickens than found in his earliest books. All of his novels have an element of anger and satire at the injustices of society in Victorian London, and this one goe
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A prolific 19th Century author of short stories, plays, novellas, novels, fiction and non-fiction; during his lifetime Dickens became known the world over for his remarkable characters, his mastery of prose in the telling of their lives, and his depictions of the social classes, morals and values of his times. Some considered him the spokesman for the poor, for he definitely brought much awarenes ...more
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