The Old Curiosity Shop
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The Old Curiosity Shop

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  6,866 ratings  ·  489 reviews
One of Dickens's most haunting and bizarre novels, The Old Curiosity Shop is the story of "Little Nell" and her persecution by the grotesque and lecherous Quilp. It is a shifting kaleidoscope of events and characters as the story reaches its tragic climax, an ending that famously devastated the novel's earliest readers. Dickens blends naturalistic and allegorical styles to...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published June 25th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1841)
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Henry Avila
In the slums of London, in the mid 1800's, on a dirty, lonely, and obscure street, a crumbling house still stands, The Old Curiosity Shop. Inside lives an old man(never named), and his pretty, young granddaughter, Nell Trent, in the back of the building. An older, lazy brother of Nell's, Frederick, is always coming to the house, trying to get some more cash( he already has wasted, too much), from the grandfather, he needs for his drinking. The almost worthless merchandise the store, has, strange...more
MJ Nicholls
Not too sentimental. Oscar Wilde was clearly in a bad mood. Boasts the evillest dwarf outside German folklore, the irrepressible Qulip. Cute kid (view spoiler) and her put-upon granddaddy (view spoiler) in King Lear and Cordelia metaphor. A crackerbox of eccentrics: the morally unsure Dick Swiveller, the ruthless Brasses (precursor of the legal vipers in Bleak House), the hero-in-waiting Kit. A rodomontade of freaks and carnies, from Mrs Jarley’s...more
Brad
Another masterful confection of pathos and comic genius, this time featuring such characters as the slacker Dick Swiveler and the cruel Daniel Quilp.


My generic comment about Charles Dickens:
First of all, although I am a partisan of Dickens' writing and have read and relished most his works, I concede to three flaws in his oeuvre that are not insignificant. First, while he seemed to develop an almost endless variety of male social types, his female characters are much less well developed. Second,...more
Jason Koivu
Has Dickens beaten the crap out of another character more than poor Little Nell?

Certainly Pip and Oliver get theirs. But at least with them there's some sort of happy ending or comeuppance for the villains. Like Little Dorrit without the uplifting ending, Little Nell just gets beat down. She gets taken advantage of time and again, and there is no redemption, not in my eyes. Sure, you could say that she gets to live out her miserable life in a better place than where she started, but (view spoile...more
Lisa
The book itself is okay--(a young girl and her grandfather flee London to escape an evil creditor)--but for me the real fun was reading a story that people got so excited about over 150 years ago. According to Wikipedia, "In 2007, many newspapers claimed the excitement at the release of the last volume of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' was the only historical comparison that could be made to the excitement at the release of the last Harry Potter novel .... Dickens fans were reported to storm the piers...more
Alex
The Old Curiosity Shop seems the perfect title for this novel, even thought the titular shop hardly features beyond the first few chapters. It's a perfect curio, a ramshackle assortment of strange Dickensian characters and one never knows what one will find from one chapter to the next. There's no overarching plot or purpose, and the novel revolves around a bunch of characters, namely Daniel Quilp, Richard Swiveller, Little Nell and Kit Nubbles - for starters - all vaguely loosely connected, but...more
Duntay
I am quite worried by this insipid-looking woman on the cover...

So far my favourite character is Whiskers the pony. I'm not sure if that bodes well.

I confess: I abandoned Little Nell. In a drawer, in a B&B in Tobermory. I did however finish the book, after lugging it about since March. I'm afraid my initial reservations were confirmed: Nell was insipid, and Whiskers the pony was ace. Especially as it is reported that his final act was to kick his doctor in his last illness. The doctor is nev...more
Ayu Palar
More than a century ago, people were waiting on the docks at New York to ask a question to passengers from England ‘Is Nell dead?’. So influential Old Curiosity Shop to those readers’ lives! And how Little Nell has stolen many readers’ hearts! I adore the novel so much and I do think that Little Nell’s life is tragic, yet I didn’t shed any tear when I closed the last page of the book. There are other elements of the book that attract me more, especially the rich description that successfully bui...more
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)

"...and so do things pass away, like a tale that is told."

When I started this novel I got all excited, thinking it might be even better than Great Expectations, my favorite Dickens novel to date. What always happens to me with Charles Dickens, though, is that my interest starts to fade about 2/3 of the way through the book. He has many sub-plots going all at once, and he abandons some of them for so long in order to focus on just one. Often the one he favors is the one I'm least interested in,...more
Chris
Reading this strengthened my opinion that Charles Dickens was a genius at creating memorable characters, but not so skilled at creating plots. Who could ever forget the devilish dwarf Mr. Quilp, the brother and sister lawyers Samson and Sarah Brass, and the kind-hearted rogue Dick Swiveller. The curious thing about the Old Curiosity Shop is that the namesake venue ceases to be location of the story very early on, and the so-called main character Nell is not half as memorable as her supporting ca...more
Ben Dutton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brian Robbins
This was another CD version to make driving more fun, and at 18 discs it promised hours and many miles of fun driving. We even had to go on a short driving holiday just to finish it!

Anton Lesser reads Dickens extremely well, even if his elderly women (thinking more of his reading of Pickwick Papers here) tend to become impersonations of Dame Edith Evans at her most theatrical. In this production his Quilp was outstanding.

I last read the book in 1987 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Returning to it was...more
Heather
Unlike most who will review this, this is the first Dickens novel that I've actually read (I don't think it counts that I skimmed A Tale of Two Cities and furiously read Cliffnotes before the exam in ninth grade). I found this book in The Galveston Bookshop when my husband and I drove down to see what all fuss over the Mardi Gras celebrations was about. We found the island as we expected: completely devastated by last year's hurricane. The Galveston Bookshop was musty and warm and smelled faintl...more
Debbie
This is a wonderfully enjoyable book. The classic Dickens formula is put to work: good vs. evil, hardship, the sad reality of real life, the journey, the secret, the bittersweet happy ending. All this equation performed amongst a myriad of extremely colorful characters and scenes so pictographic in description and prose that the landscape seems to pop up out of the book and play out in animation before the eyes. Dickens has such a way with his characters. They are always to the extreme. When the...more
Mary
I read this for a book club, would not have read it on my own, and in fact I found it a lot more engaging than I expected. Not surprising that this was written to be serialized, and a lot of it is very formulaic. I find that I am reminded of the little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead – when she was good she was very very good, and when she was bad she was horrid. The very very good here is Nell, who is so good that she is described as an angel, and apparently is too good to...more
Jean
SPOILERS


It's curious. Usually, I don't mind knowing how a book ends. I read for the pleasure of the telling, more than for the tale. But in this case, I wonder if knowing that (and here comes the spoiler--if you can really say that about a well-known book that's well past its hundredth birthday) Nell dies diminished the ending's emotional impact too much. In a way, I want it to be the fact that I went in knowing it was coming. But, sadly, I don't think that was the case.

It's curious. I just coul...more
Charly
Mar 20, 2012 Charly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone, especially Dickens fans
Although this is one of Dickens' earlier works I am not sure it is as well known as some others. This was a bit atypical of him in one sense, in that he ties things up in the end a bit differently than in some of his books. Can't go beyond that without a spoiler. I suggest not reading the introduction before the piece if you have this edition.

As always his wit, humor, and masterful twists come into play as well as his wonderfully weird characters
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Manny
'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears... of laughter.'

I don't have anything to add to Oscar Wilde's masterly summing-up. He nailed it. Maybe some enterprising person would like to open a GR account for him, and just present his unedited opinions? I'm sure he'd collect a lot of votes.

Luke Harris
Another great book by Dickens. Whereas Nicholas Nickleby contain a lot of narrative in a fairly short space, the Old Curiosity Shop is rather the opposite. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though if I were to pick fault it would be the seeming aimlessness of the narrative at times. But on the other hand, this book contains one of the most chilling and utterly brilliant pieces of description I have ever read, when the characters are on the road between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, of the effe...more
Stuart Ayris
Charles Dickens wrote The Old Curiosity Shop between 1840 and 1841. He was 28 years old when he began writing it and by that time he had already written and published The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. 1840 was the year that the world's first postage stamp - The Penny Black - came into being, Emile Zola and Thomas Hardy were born and Nicolo Paganini died. It was also the year that cricketer Charles Hawkins amassed 283 runs in a full season at an average of 14.42 with a high...more
☽ Moon ☯ 佛月球 Будда Луны
In the beginning was the lonesome shop that creeped in the grimness of the dark like a long standing specter riveted on its haunted spot. It stood isolated and unnoticed amid the light and bustle of the night as it appeared like a stump of some neglected tombstone in a forgotten cemetery left to its own blight. In it were some of the old and curiosity things, of knickknacks, trinkets and stuff, of unwanted items left to rot in their own dust. From which dark corner, two unlikely souls emerged in...more
J.M. Hushour
Oscar Wilde once famously excoriated this work by declaring that 'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter.' Another 19th century literary strongarm, Percy Lemonatlas perhaps better summed this up when he, no fan of Dickens, declared the story of Nell "a fucking piece of sinister curshit" and called for Dickens public castration.
Being both a fan of Dickens and having a heart made out of pumice, sturdy in my masculinity t...more
Anna  Matsuyama
The Old Curiosity Shop (Weekly serial in Master Humphrey's Clock, 25 April 1840, to 6 February 1841). Printed as a separate book in 1841.

Favourite couple: Richard/the Marchioness
Story is more 3 star one but the Marchioness gives this story one extra star.

Miss Sally and her brother were amazingly written villains. Unfortunately Dickens didn't give us Mr Quilp's background or any reason why he was so evil. Was he embittered? I think he was.



Maryam
If you are some sort of hardcore masochist, or really into Dickens, or into writing (I must admit that he can create an atmosphere as noone else)- in this case this book is for you.
However I must warn that it is nothing but misery and extremely depressing.

I used to think that I've read it as a teenager, but when I reached 50 pages I realized that I dropped it back then. What do you know I used to be smarter than now. This time I finished it.

It wasn't bad, it's just not my type of book and its...more
Dennis
This was my least favorite Dickens novel as in his eagerness to please a newspaper audience, he really laid on the maudlinness and anti-semitism to a point where it became ridiculous. Is any child as good and pure as Nell? Is any Jewish dwarf so evil as Quilp? What about Jews of normal stature or agnostic dwarves? It was laid on a bit thick but I forgive Charles because he wrote so many other much better books.
Digant
I'm a heretic. I know. I listened to this book for an hour and a half and just didn't give a damn.
Rebecca
Angel in the house hits the road and doesn't come back no more.
Susan
This is not my favorite Dickens. It’s episodic like Pickwick Papers, with relatively few solid threads to hold it together, and, as such, easy to lose interest in. Little Nell, supposedly Dickens’ tribute to his sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, who died at 17 while living in his house, is, like Mary, characterized as practically angelic and emblematic of the inability of goodness to exist long outside of the heavenly realm. It’s clear from the beginning that Little Nell will have to die and then the...more
Janice
As I expected, this book's most famous character, Nell Trent, had no appeal for me at all. The parts of the book that I didn't expect to like, I didn't really like. Dickens is never at his best, for my taste, when writing about seriously ill children. It brings out his most maudlin, sticky-sweet sentimental writing. Nell, as well as Dombey's son (whose name escapes me) and Tiny Tim, seems to evoke great emotion for Dickens, but tend to leave me bored. The odd thing about Nell was that Dickens ke...more
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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
More about Charles Dickens...
A Tale of Two Cities Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield

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“It is a pleasant world we live in, sir, a very pleasant world. There are bad people in it, Mr. Richard, but if there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.” 166 likes
“Thus violent deeds live after men upon the earth, and traces of war and bloodshed will survive in mournful shapes long after those who worked the desolation are but atoms of earth themselves.” 10 likes
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