Danielle's Reviews > A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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Apr 17, 09

bookshelves: classics-recommended-reading, fiction
Read in January, 2001

Based solely on this book, and my high school self's perception of it, I decided Charles Dickens was vastly overrated. However, after reading David Copperfield as an adult, I've concluded that he's only mildly overrated.
I should re-read this now in order to be fair, but until that happens, this review will reflect what I thought as a 16-year-old.
First of all, not stellar writing. Just sort of ho-hum, I thought. Also, the plot was pretty obvious, and not as enthralling as it should have been. Finally, there was too much force-feeding of history for me to really enjoy the story.
I realize this reaction to the book probably marks me as ignorant, but at the time, I didn't find much to be impressed with in it. Someday when I get around to reading it again (probably when my high school-age child needs help on a book report) that might change.
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Danae Tim is an extremely big fan of Dickens, and has read most of his books, even the crazy-long obscure ones. I, as a general rule, can barely tolerate any of them. I did find Great Expectations both creepy and vaguely interesting; anyway, I had a bad experience with David Copperfield (my theory is that anyone who can write 800 pages about their life should have died about 300 pages ago), so I basically swore off Dickens after that. Tim made me read A Tale of Two Cities, because he said it was really good. I decided it wasn't truly awful--and I had always felt bad I hadn't read it. Anyway, still not a Dickens fan, but I didn't hate A Tale of Two Cities. Still don't think it's as profound as some people try to make it out to be, though.


Danielle So, I have a strong feeling that I must have read an abridged version of David Copperfield. I'm pretty sure it was more like 200 or 300 pages, not 800. Also, I remember being very impressed with how Dickens stayed on task, story-wise, with David Copperfield as opposed to A Tale of Two Cities. So, yeah, on second thought, maybe I still think Dickens is overrated.


Danae David Copperfield was the only book I ever lied about reading in highschool-- I tried and tried and TRIED to get through it for a book report; eventually I came to the conclusion it was never going to happen (although, if I ever develop insomnia, I may go buy a copy to put myself to sleep!) so I just skipped from about page 500 where I was, read the last 20 pages, and did the dumb book report. My point is that I can fairly confidantly say, it is NOT 300 pages. And, if there is one thing you can stay about Dickens, it is that he may be good at many things, but staying on-task with a story is not one of them. That is what I really hate about him--you can never tell which 5-page description of a chair is going to be important later, and which was just there for its own fun.


Danielle Heaven help me if I ever read a book where a five-page description of a chair bears actual relevance to the story. Okay, perhaps a book titled "The Story of the Chair" would justify it, but otherwise, no. I feel silly now about liking David Copperfield so much. I'm done with Dickens.


Danae You may be on to something, though--I may just try the abridged version of his books, and they may just be bearable!


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