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A Tale of Two Cities
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HISTORICAL FICTION > 11. A TALE OF TWO CITIES ~ April 16th - April 22nd~~ BOOK THE THIRD ~ X, XI, XII ~ (313 - 338) No Spoilers Please

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Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments Hello Everyone,

The eleventh week's reading assignment is:

Week Eleven: April 16th - April 22nd (2012):
Book the Third, X, XI, XII (pages 313 - 338)

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads as we did for other books.

This book was kicked off on February 6th. We look forward to your participation. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle. And to make things even easier; this book is available "free" on line as either an ebook download or an audiobook. This weekly thread will be opened up either during the weekend before or on Monday of the first day.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

Becky will be leading this discussion. But since this is Becky's first time moderating a book in the History Book Club; Bentley will be co-moderating this selection.


~Bentley & Becky


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens by Charles DickensCharles Dickens



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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens by Charles DickensCharles Dickens

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments Chapter Overviews and Summaries

Week Eleven - April 16 - April 22
(pages 313 - 338)

X. The Substance of the Shadow

Dr. Manette's secret prison note is read at court. It tells the story of how years prior two brothers had taken him to help an insane and dying woman. In a back room a boy was dying of a sword thrust. The boy revealed what had happened here and the reason was robbery and rape to his family. The boy died that night and the woman later. During his visit to the woman the Doctor saw the letter E on a scarf and was there when the boy confronted the Marquis Evremond. The Doctor wrote to the government but was visited by the wife of the Marquis who wanted to atone because of family name. Her small son, Charles, is with her. Later the Marquis shows up with the Doctor's letter and that is how the doctor ended up in prison.

The court is aghast and the judge says that it is an joy to be able to make a widow out of Darnay's wife. Madame Defarge is pleased. Darnay is to die within 24 hours.

XI. Dusk
Lucie cries out and the family has a very emotional farewell. Sydney Carton appears and carries Lucie to the coach. Dr. Manette says he will go to the Prosecutor and try to help Darnay. Carton and Lorry confide to each other that they have no hope.

XII. Darkness
Carton goes to the Defarge wine shop where he is seen by some of the regulars, Jacques III, Vengeance, Defarge and Madame Defarge. They all note how he resembles Darnay who reads a revolutionary paper. The regular customers discuss if the executions should end - Defarge rather sticks up for the Doctor and his family but Madame Defarge is insistent on the guillotine for all and Jacque and the Vengeance agree. She is insistent because it was her family which was so injured by the Evremonds as described in the Doctor's note.

Carton leaves the wine shop and goes to see Mr. Lorry and wait for Doctor Manette. The Doctor returns quite late and so tired and unhappy that he wants his bench again. As Carton is about to leave he gives his travel certificate as well as those of the others to Mr. Lorry for safekeeping. Carton tells Lorry that Lucie, little Lucie and the Doctor are all in danger from Madame Defarge. Carton tells Lorry he can help save them by being ready to go to England and Lorry promises to do his part. Carton leaves with a blessing and Farewell.

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments So in Chapter 10 it looks like the truth of the matter is coming out - the reason the Doctor was in jail all those years. The Doctor is a good and honest man who is writing this on what he believes to be his death watch - if not death bed. He is apparently to be totally believed even to the dialogues.

" ' I know from terrible warnings I have noted in myself that my reason will not long remain unimpaired, but I solemnly declare that I am at this time in the possession of my right mind—that my memory is exact and circumstantial—and that I write the truth as I shall answer for these my last recorded words, whether they be ever read by men or not, at the Eternal Judgment-seat.' "

The note can make for difficult reading, There is the main narrative of A Tale of Two Cities and within that there is a lengthy note by Doctor Manette telling why he was in prison. Within Doctor Manette's note there is a tale from a teen-age boy relating what has happened to his sister and himself.

I'll confess that although I followed the narrative of Dr. Manette's note easily enough, the boy's story took some rereading and some sorting out.

Did you find this to be difficult reading? Was the situation clear or did it require some pretty careful reading or even rereading?

Ruthbie | 18 comments Yeah it took me a while to get all of the story regarding Manette and the boy straight in my head to be honest! I love the way characters are revealing themselves to be so much more than maybe one might have thought earlier, particularly Miss Pross and of course Sydney Carton!

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments And this is where we find out why Madame Defarge hates Darnay so much - and he was a child when it happened. But she hates his whole "race" (family/tribe). And I guess hatred spreads -

Can you imagine Doctor Manette's horror at having his prison note used this way?

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments I really enjoyed these chapter titles, too. They really helped me keep track of the time going by during Carton's sections.

message 7: by Becky (last edited Apr 19, 2012 10:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments Fwiw, the idea that the lord of the area had "rights" to the women in the district had long gone out of practice by the time of the French Revolution - it actually may be only a legend, but there were still stories about it. I wonder if people in England of Dickens' time knew that or if they believed what they read here.

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bentley | 23983 comments It is hard to tell from that era isn't it. Were they more astute at that time in being able to decipher what they read (if they read) at to what was truth, what was fiction, what was propaganda. Women have been considered chattel thoughout time much like other minorities - and unfortunately you see this practice still today in some parts of the world. There weren't roving journalists and television crews risking their lives to tell the stories of the wronged. Terrible times.

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments I think sometimes when when there's great fear the tendency is to believe the worst. The English were scared to death of a revolution similar to that in France. Thomas Carlyle didn't help any, and Dickens worked with him. They used that fear to get the later Reform Acts passed.

I don't think we're much better today - not about things we ourselves fear. Scholars know more about the "lord's rights" of Medieval Europe and elsewhere because there has been more evidence (or lack thereof) discovered. I think the average person believes what he wants about today's fears (and watches /reads sources which agree). - sad to say -

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 40 comments Through this book I have been disturbed by Madame Defarge, but in Darkness, I was appalled at the cold, calm hatred she shows that is more terrifying because it seems completely devoid of emotion. She is like a machine that will finish her appointed task, no matter what.

" I have observed his daughter!" repeated madame; "yes, I have observed his daughter, more times than one. I have observed her today, and I have observed her other days. I have observed her in the court, and I have observed her in the street by the prison. Let me but lift my finger ------!" She seemed to raise it (the listener's eyes were always on the paper), and to let it fall with a rattle on the ledge before her, as if the axe had dropped......

She has observed Lucie as an enemy, seeing nothing of her character or her emotions, only seeing her as a victim that deserves death.

"Tell the Wind and Fire where to stop; not me!"

Her hatred is stronger than both wind and fire and harder to stop. Scary!

message 11: by Cleo (last edited Apr 19, 2012 10:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cleo (cleopatra18) | 40 comments During Madame Defarge's monologue, Defarge answers throughout "It is so," without prompting. Is this repetition designed to show the reader just how subservient he is to her? His rapid agreement makes the reader wonder if he will ever be able to stand up to her, to save Dr. Manette and/or his family.

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments After these chapters I'm wondering if Doctor Manette should go on a list of most saintly characters in literature. There he was, minding his own patients when he's snatched up to tend to a mad woman dying of abuse. He can save neither her nor her brother. He knows what went on and tries to alert the authorities by letter. The letter is snatched and he's put in prison for 18 years during which time he scratches out the story of his incarceration with an iron point using an ink of soot, charcoal and blood. He hides it. During his 18 year imprisonment he goes mad while making shoes to keep busy. He is miraculously saved at the beginning of the Revolution and harbored in the house of a future enemy. He is reunited with his daughter who shortly afterwards marries Charles Darnay French emigre (tried for being a spy) to England. His son-in-law goes to Paris to straighten out family affairs and is arrested. Manette goes to Paris where he works tirelessly for Darnay's freedom in and out of the prison. Then his letter is found and he finds himself to be one of Darnay's accusers!

From Book 1, Chapter 2:
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.

Doctor Manette is surely one of those characters whose interior life must certainly be a mystery to others. But how about the other characters? The passage was written about Mr. Lorry but how about Sidney Carton, Miss Pross, Jerry Cruncher, Lucie Manette - are they also mysteries to others? How so?

Zeljka (ZTook) | 83 comments Becky wrote: "But how about the other characters? The passage was written about Mr. Lorry but how about Sidney Carton, Miss Pross, Jerry Cruncher, Lucie Manette - are they also mysteries to others? How so?

Forgive me for intrusion -- I've been reading the book quite slowly for a while, then suddenly finishing it just over the last weekend. However, after finishing each section, I did piously take a look at your discussions, which by the way, were very interesting but it was a bit late to jump in.
I hope this isn't the case with this. The question you posed Becky hit the target for me, because Sidney Carton was exactly the character I was puzzled by. I believe, at this point we might have already guessed a bit of his intentions, but his inner struggles and the manners with which he spoke to Mannettes and Mr Lorry were so mysterious that I wonder how in such insecure times they weren't more inquisitive.

And the darkness in Madame Defarge - Dickens justifies the revolution itself because of many injustices and horrors done to the lower classes, but he does not approve the (nonsensical) means by which they had meant to provide the long sought justice. Also by introducing such a character as Madame Defarge, he certainly made his contemporary readers disturbingly aware of how far might go the rage and insensitiveness of those who get the opportunity to avenge the wrong done against them.

Becky (httpsbeckylindrooswordpresscom) | 1219 comments This is no intrusion! Your comments are very much a part of an ongoing discussion - (even if I've sadly neglected to respond for so long).

I think what you've said there is very interesting because Sidney Carton is a mystery, especially to the reader until they've finished the book - and even then. And his interaction with the Defarges in their shop does take a bit of suspension of disbelief. (sigh)

As to the rage and its consequences, yes, I believe this book is in part a warning to Britain.


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