A Tale of Two Cities
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A Tale of Two Cities

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  492,992 ratings  ·  9,089 reviews
It's time to rediscover the wonderful books we all cherish.

First published in 1859, A Tale of Two Cities is one of Dickens's most famous and popular novels. This stirring tale, set in the late eighteenth century against the backdrop of the French Revolution, is a novel for all generations. Filled with adventure and love, revolution and terror, it transports the reader to a...more
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published October 22nd 1987 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1859)
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Melissa Rudder
My primary goal when I'm teaching A Tale of Two Cities to my sophomores is to make them realize that Charles Dickens didn't write creaky, dusty long novels that teachers embraced as a twisted rite of passage for teenagers. Instead, I want them them to understand why Dickens was one of the most popular writers in England and America during his time. I want them to see the book as the suspenseful, comedic, and sentimental piece of entertainment that it is. Because, while A Tale of Two Cities is ma...more
Leslie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma
Christ on a bike - I’d forgotten how much concentration Dickens demands.

Reading the first few chapters of this book was, frankly, a chore. I could not be less bothered about The Mail and the more Dickens banged on about that never ending carriage journey the more I daydreamed about the next book I was going to read once this torture was over. I’m glad I didn’t give up though because as soon as we hit France and the wine shop I was hooked, the pace started to pick up and there were mysteries and...more
Laura
Years of teaching this novel to teenagers never dimmed my thrill in reading it — if anything, I grew to love it more every time I watched kids gasp aloud at the revelations! Critics are divided on its place in the Dickens canon, but the ones who think it an inferior work are simply deranged. It has everything: dark deeds, revolution, madness, love, thwarted love, forgiveness, revenge, and a stunning act of self-sacrifice. And melodrama! Oh, how Dickens loved melodrama, but in A Tale of Two Citie...more
Jason Koivu
Hands down my favorite Dickens' I've read yet! It's got love, sacrifice, revenge, revolt and other exciting verbs! I'm a big fan of a solid marriage between character development and action. A Tale of Two Cities is well-wed. Some criticize Dickens for his trite stories and overblown caricature-esque characters. Yes, the man wrote some less-than-perfect books. He wrote them for a wide-ranging public and he wrote for money. High-minded prose eloquently crafted may garner praise, but it doesn't alw...more
Phoebe
A reaction, written by sixteen-year-old Phoebe (and submitted to my lovely English teacher, Mrs. S., in lieu of a summer reading essay):

I've got nothing to say, but it's okay ..or is it?

I'm risking my grade to write this, I know, but I just have to get this off my chest. After stressing my brain for two and a half days I have come to the following conclusion: The second book of A Tale of Two Cities utterly and completely bored me. I can think of nothing of substance to write about, other than th...more
Dee
Picking up this book was a brave move. The only Dickens I'd ever managed to plod my way through was Great Expectations. My expectations weren't great and unfortunately it didn't exceed them (probably been tainted by the film version with Gwyneth Paltrow where everything is green). I tried Hard Times and didn't get very far (a poor choice for a novice I'll bet--should have known from the title). I know the general gist of many of his other books and have intended to read them, but three days ago...more
Erik
A Tale of Two Cities holds the dubious honor of being the first book I ever picked up and failed to finish. The very first.

From there, it's all gone downhill. Just look at my reviews where I casually admit to throwing away classics unread. A Light in August, Lolita, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, etc, etc...

If you enjoy the little things, like being sane and not hating life, then I recommend you never pick this up.
Michael
What a book! After reading this, I've come to appreciate Charles Dickens as so much more than "that guy who wrote the Christmas Carol."

One thing I love is his ability to create a perfect storyline. Everything in this book fits together in the end like a perfect, intricate puzzle. Components that were thought to be gratuitous at first will come back in major ways at later points in the book. Maybe it's just me, but I adore authors who blatantly show that they know exactly where they're going with...more
David
This is another one of those Charles Dickens classics I was supposed to read as a kid and never did. Since I've never seen any of the movies either, it was actually pretty unspoiled for me, though I did know how it ends (anyone growing up in the English-speaking world can hardly have avoided knowing Sydney Carton's famous last lines: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.".

Once again, I am in awe of Dicke...more
Fahad
قصة مدينتين

استعرت هذه الرواية من مكتبة الجامعة في بداية الألفية، كان ذلك قبل عالم الانترنت، عندما كنا لا نلتقي ولا نتعرف على الكتب ومشاهير المؤلفين إلا من خلال الصحف أو الكتب التي تسقط بين أيدينا اتفاقاً، ديكنز كان مألوفاً لي حينها، كنت قد قرأت له دايفد كوبرفيلد، وأعرف موقعه كروائي إنجليزي عظيم.

حصلت على الكتاب الضخم، المغلف من قبل الجامعة بغلاف صلب، والمختوم مراراً كجواز سائح كوني، كنت غراً حينها، جديد على كل العوالم التي أمامي، فلذا حملت النسخة الضخمة محاولاً قراءتها خلال مهلة اليومين التي تم...more
Danger
About 30 pages into this book, I was struck with a moment of panic:

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? WHERE THE HELL IS GARFIELD?!?

Had the lasagna-loving feline been uncerimoniously behead on the guillotine before the happenings of page 1? Without my favorite cartoon cat's wry, laid-back sense of wit these are surely THE WORST OF TIMES!

That is when I realized I was reading the classic text A Tale of Two CITIES, by Charles Dickens and not watching the 2006 cinematic masterpiece Garfield: A TAIL of Two KITTIES...more
Brad
A painful beast of a book. It took me five attempts to get past page one hundred, and when I finally did break that barrier I pressed on until the very end so that I didn't have to suffer ever again.

Dickens is a problem for me. I admit it freely.

There was a time, many years ago, when I was a fan. I read Great Expectations for the first time in grade four, and I was in love with the book and Dickens. And I imagine that some part of my social consciousness, which wasn't a gift from my parents, was...more
Sparrow
Dec 09, 2012 Sparrow rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rick Perry
Recommended to Sparrow by: Mr. Zottola
Who are your gods? Whom do you worship in actions, and whom in words? Charles Dickens waggles his finger in my face, the finger of a crone, of a maiden, of a businessman. The polished finger of a marquis, the calloused finger of a knitter. He makes his point with the appropriate number of adjectives and with enough humor to break through the polished shell of morality and reach something true. When you dress your Good up in robes and worship it, maybe what you truly worship is Death. And Dickens...more
Stephen
6.0 stars. This was the first Charles Dickens novel I have ever read and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! After reading this, I immediately decided that I would plan on reading the rest of Dickens books (hopefully one every couple of months until I get through them all. I was completely amazed by his characters who came instantly to life for me and about whose hopes and fears I found myself truly caring. Equally impressive was Dickens' plotting and overall story-telling ability which I thought were noth...more
Kim

Charles Dickens is not my favourite novelist by a wide margin. At high school, I found Great Expectations and Oliver Twist underwhelming. Although I loved Bleak House when I read it at university, my positive reaction to that novel did not inspire me to read any more Dickens. And I haven’t done so until now. Tackled as a buddy read with members of the Mt TBR Challenge Group, I listened to this novel as an audiobook very capably narrated by Anton Lesser.

For quite a long time, I thought that this...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Above all else, this is a love story. It is a story of family and friendship and loyalty. It is Dickens at his most florid and most rhetorical, his most humane, his most [melo]dramatic; yet in many ways, his most precise. I vacillate between this and Bleak House as my favourites of his. I would tell you, if you've not read Dickens, to start here. This is as seminal a work in English literature as King Lear or perhaps a more apt comparison, Romeo and Juliet.

For this is a love story.

The last three...more
midnightfaerie
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

Why have I always assumed that quote was from Shakespeare? I've always loved Dickens but this book moved me to tears. Definitely one of his best works of all time, and my conclusion is this:
I am thoroughly in love with Carton. To be able to have that peace and finally put my sin to rest, how blissful that would be! To find an act that might possibly make me feel th...more
MJ Nicholls
Chris Sarandon saved me. His excellent performance as Sydney and Charles in this respectable 1980s TV adaptation helped me over the hump of a confused first attempt to engage with this splendid tale. Despite forever entwining Sydney to Nick Cave in my imagination (a bad thing?) Chris played the two heroes with plank-like charisma and bouffant hair. The novel itself is a quiet epic—for all the tumult, uprising and bloodshed, this a story of personal sacrifice and silent, sorrowful heartbreak. An...more
Mark
Dec 04, 2013 Mark rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but Robespierre or Mme Defarge
Recommended to Mark by: Mr Flint, my English teacher
Shelves: favorites
This book became my favourite novel when I read it in my third year at school in 1978. I have no idea why it grabbed me so dramatically as I know I have read better books since but Chas still occupies the top spot. I think the character of Carton is such a beautifully drawn study of a wastrel being made magnificent through the love he bears for the unattainable and his act of sacrifice is stupendous. Those last few pages of this gigantic tome find me normally sniffing and wiping tears away and t...more
Jeannette
Final rating 3-1/2 stars

to paraphrase It was the best of books, it was the worst of books. I have to reconcile slogging thru the first two thirds with the outstanding finish.

My Review

This is the first full-length Dickens' novel I have read. Having watched many film adaptations of his books, I freely admit that he was a great storyteller. Here he presents a tale of the French Revolution, making it very personal by centering the story around one man, former prisoner of the Bastille, Dr. Manette....more
Kelly
May 22, 2009 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Brit lit dorks, history geeks
Say what you want about this book. Overdone, overblown, overly dramatic. Yes. He drops anvils like Wylde E. Coyote. He's about as subtle as my dog when he needs to pee. Yes. But I love this book anyway. I just adore it, and you can't talk me out of it! It is my favorite Dickens novel.

All of the aforementioned may be completely true, but I think that with the subject and time period that Dickens is dealing with, he can get away with it. Was there anything subtle or restrained about the Terror? I'...more
Mary
“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other" p.47

I feel guilty for not liking this book for the first 50-100 pages or so. I don't know what it is with me and "classics", it takes me so long to get into them and I get frustrated and impatient too quickly. For a book with one of the greatest opening paragraphs ever written ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...") I felt duped. It was a set up. H...more
Maciek
It's always difficult to write a review of a work of classic literature - such as this one - but I never expected it to affect me that much.

A Tale of Two Cities is a novel that works on several levels. Most study it as social commentary about the French Revolution, but I think that even those not interested in history will find it a book of interest, because it is quite possibly the most romantic love story ever told.

Sure, it's overtly sentimental (as most of Dickens's work), and at times you ca...more
Keith Mukai
This was the only book I remember enjoying from my high school English classes. Re-reading it twelve years later I can see why I liked it so much--and still do.

Dickens lays it on pretty thick in parts and is perhaps trying too hard to evoke the passions and bloodlust of the French Revolution. And as lovely as dear Lucie Mannette is, she's pretty unbearable by modern women's standards. But don't worry, Dickens isn't a misogynist. He more than makes up for Lucie in the characters of Madame Defarge...more
Lynne King
How can one even attempt to write a review on this much acclaimed Dickens' book? And my favourite of all of his works.

All I can say to those who may not have read this book, if you like a backdrop of the French Revolution with the spice of Dickens' special writing style, then this is the book for you.

An excellent work that still lives on.

I was looking at this book again last night and have now, I believe, found an author who I can put on the same pedestal as Dickens. Brave words one may think bu...more
Werner
Mar 27, 2009 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th century fiction
Most of Dickens' novels were set in his own time; this was one of only two forays he made into historical fiction (both of which are set in the time of the generation immediately before his own, for which he could still draw on the impressions of living witnesses) but in it, he managed to produce one of the genre's timeless classics. All of the best traits of his writing are here: his unequaled characterizations, his mastery of plotting, his passionate sense of justice, his ability to evoke the...more
Jan-Maat
Mar 10, 2013 Jan-Maat added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who aren't French and dislike 1789 and all that
This book is interesting for the wrong reasons. On the one hand there are elements that work very well and you feel confident in the author's skill but on the other hand the sequence of events that sucks one character after another back into France feels entirely unconvincing.

In Bleak House we see a bundle of characteristics taken to a negative extreme in the person of the French women Hortense, this is extended here to the point that 'bad' and French' seem to be synonymous terms as do 'good' an...more
K.
May 27, 2013 K. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ummm, it's Dickens. Everyone.
New review at bottom, under stars**

Rereading 5/13. This book gets 10 stars. Each and every time. It is yummier and more satisfying than the best chocolate dessert you can imagine ;)

Can't WAIT to discuss this book with some fortunate youth, most of whom are coming to Dickens for the first time. How lucky for them!

Kids. DON'T GIVE UP!!!

The beginning chapters of this book can give grown-ups fits. Just roll with it and get what you can and forget the rest. I promise that as you read you will begin...more
Tammy  King Carlton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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...
Great Expectations A Christmas Carol Oliver Twist David Copperfield Bleak House

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“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” 1798 likes
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” 1417 likes
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