Dickens is never afraid of using three words when one would suffice, but he usually handles his verbosity gracefully. Grace or no, a red pen and a paring knife would have done this tale some good. Though I concede there are memorable characters in this story, there really is no story, rather several stories (or perhaps more to the point -- characters) running in a parallel fashion with no real direction and minimal interaction.
There is Little Nell and her Grandfather. They suffer like a Solzhenitsyn – their job is to live a life of Job, we pity them but their fortitude begins to wear a bit thin.
Secondly arises Daniel Quilp, an evil money lender. He is undoubtedly the most interesting character. For variety, I have decided we need more evil people. Unfortunately the author seems to equate Quilp’s nasty nature with his short stature. I am 5’6” and deeply offended.
Kip a youthful sprite is a devotee of Little Nell and the picture of goodness almost to the level of Nell herself – therefore not likely to be found in nature. I decided to kill off this character around page 400 – I threw him down a well. When he would occasionally crawl out and appear around page margins, I stepped on his fingers and he fell back in.
And finely we have Dick Swiveller. He is lovable rouge with a good heart. He is worth keeping in a dry area.
There are wonderful snippets in The Old Curiosity Shop but it is not one of my favorites from this master.