Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Our Mutual Friend” as Want to Read:
Our Mutual Friend
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book

Our Mutual Friend

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  26,607 ratings  ·  1,536 reviews
A satiric masterpiece about the allure and peril of money, Our Mutual Friend revolves around the inheritance of a dust-heap where the rich throw their trash. When the body of John Harmon, the dust-heap’s expected heir, is found in the Thames, fortunes change hands surprisingly, raising to new heights “Noddy” Boffin, a low-born but kindly clerk who becomes “the Golden Dustm ...more
Paperback, 801 pages
Published September 10th 2002 by Modern Library (first published November 1865)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Our Mutual Friend, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Kathleen Jennings I adore this book. It's the Princess Bride of Dicken's books, and constructed of Thames mud and fairytales. You have to sink into it - my latest rerea…moreI adore this book. It's the Princess Bride of Dicken's books, and constructed of Thames mud and fairytales. You have to sink into it - my latest reread was the Simon Vance audio, which makes the longest passages cumulatively hysterical. (less)
Rog Harrison In the first book, chapter 12 "The sweat of an honest man's brow" Eugene refers to his father as "My respected father - let me shorten the dutiful tau…moreIn the first book, chapter 12 "The sweat of an honest man's brow" Eugene refers to his father as "My respected father - let me shorten the dutiful tautology by substituting in future MRF, which sounds military, and rather like the Duke of Wellington."(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,607 ratings  ·  1,536 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Our Mutual Friend
Ahmad Sharabiani
Our Mutual Friend (In Two Volumes), Charles Dickens

Our Mutual Friend, written in the years 1864–65, is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining savage satire with social analysis.

In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames and identified as that of John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father's will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl
Bill Kerwin
Jun 15, 2007 rated it really liked it

Although not quite the equal of those great late works Bleak House and Little Dorrit, this last completed novel of Charles Dickens has much to recommend it. It is particularly memorable for its symbolism, the way it uses a series of "dust mounds" (huge heterogeneous piles of waste, primarily of cinders and ash, waiting to be recycled as bricks) owned by the "Golden Dustman" to represent great fortunes, their barrenness and avarice, and their harmful effects on an increasingly money-mad society.
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I listened to this for the first time on audio. And I know!!! I'm not supposed to do that with first time books because I can't comprehend audio as the first read. I already have the book in my Amazon wishlist.

But! I couldn't stop listening to it because the marrator (Simon Vance) was freaking amazing!! His voice was perfect for the book. Um, I have it in my audible wishlist too 😂 He gets all the stars.

Now I'm hoping my re-read will bring this up to 5 stars when I can use my brain!

Just anothe
Ruby Granger
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
This isn't my favourite Dickens book, but I did grow to like it more and more as it continued. I particularly enjoyed the narrative of Betty Higden and her wards Johnny and Sloppy. Such a warming subplot! ...more
Well, well, well, my dear Dickens!

It is time for my Christmas letter to you, which I impose on your powerless spirit like a Marley not quite as dead as a doornail, if you please?

Unsurprisingly, I show my consistent inconsistency by telling my son that this is my favourite Dickens. Do I even bother to justify my choice anymore, suspecting that it will be replaced the moment I take on Little Dorrit or The Pickwick Papers?

Yes, I do care to elaborate. For one thing I have learned from Dickens and
Our Mutual Friend is the last complete work by Dickens, and is much criticized as being "less Dickensian". There is probably some truth in it, for while thematically relying on social commentary and preserving his natural wit, satire, and critical sense, Dickens has departed from his comfortable and established zone into a matured, complete and elevated level. While it may not appeal to those who preferred the established "Dickensian" style, for my part, I found it really amazing and fascinatin ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
In completing Our Mutual Friend, I believe that I may well have just finished reading the finest book written in the English language. One could perhaps argue that the prose of Austen in her novel Emma is more perfect; but the plotting and characters of Dickens in Our Mutual Friend is exquisite. Our Mutual Friend rivals Tolstoy’s War and Peace in breadth, scope, scale, and number of characters; but while War and Peace proceeds forward majestically in a linear fashion; Our Mutual Friend, like Dic ...more
Katie Lumsden
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
As amazing as ever. I love this book so much.

Anyone familiar with LOST understands where I'm coming from here, but just in case you're stuck under a rock and have never watched the show (looking at you, Josiah) the above cupcake image is the character, Desmond Hume. Our Mutual Friend is associated with him on the show - it's the one book he claims he will read before he dies and we find later he has named his boat - wait for it - Our Mutual Friend.

With that said, this connection to LOST is absolutely not the reason why I decided to read th
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: satire, 2018, british, fiction
"And this is the eternal law. For, Evil often stops short at itself and dies with the doer of it; but Good, never."
- Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend


Dicken's last finished novel, but not my last Dicken's novel (I think I still have 5 left to read before I'm done with Dickens). I liked it. It might have been closer to 3★ than 4★ EXCEPT I liked that Dickens seemed to reform somewhat his era's bias and his own bias towards Jews. Mr Riah is a better character than was typically included in 19th-ce
Bionic Jean
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Money. Filthy lucre. The love of money may be the root of all evil, but money, whether you like it or not Dickens tells us, is also Our Mutual Friend.

Nothing misses Dickens’s sharp penetrating eye. In this final completed novel he is at his most astute, most bitter, and most brilliantly sardonic. We no longer have the posturing and hectoring tone of the earlier novels, but a much more nuanced writing style. Dickens has honed his skills to perfection, using his sarcasm and wit to entertain in the
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
He do the Police in different voices
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage
Our Mutual Friend

What do we have here but mounds of dust - garbage - and an “old rascal who made his money by Dust", who grew rich ‘as a Dust Contractor, and lived in a hollow in a hilly country entirely composed of Dust. On his own small estate the growling old vagabond threw up his own mountain range, like an old volcano, and its geol
Henry Avila
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
John Harmon is found dead in the polluted Thames River one of many but wait a minute, since he's the main character of the book, this would be a very short novel (it is 800 pages long !). Don't worry ladies and gentlemen of course not really him, the body identified as John and thought to be a murder victim was a friend and Harmon is heir to his wealthy but cruel father's estate, the miser estranged from his son made a fortune in the dust business (they make bricks from ). John had to marry a wo ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Before Goodreads, before the Internet (aka the dark ages) I kept a list of Books Read and I've finally added them all in here. On that list is Our Mutual Friend. The title is right there, in my handwriting. So I must have read it. As it is 900 pages long, you would think I'd remember it, but I don't. In fact I had thought it was the one remaining Big Dickens I hadn't read & was saving it for a rainy day, or 90 rainy days. Now I am wondering if I was possibly not sober when I added it to my Books ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever read Charles Dickens, you will know that his plot lines, characters, and literary devices are myriad, and for my thinking, Our Mutual Friend might employ more of those than any other of his novels that I have read. In the beginning, this made the thread a little harder to keep untangled, but in the end, it served his purposes beautifully.

There are, for your entertainment, two major love stories, a mysterious imposter, a murderer or two, a few men of nefarious occupation, a coupl
Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
Dickens's last finished novel featuring the tale of John Harmon's (after his supposed murder) search for love. Combining many of the themes he has previously featured, this is one of Dickens most complex novels, but I found that ii wasn't that compelling a read, from the viewpoint of someone who has read many of his other works. Still, it was a nice epitaph to his formidable legacy. 6 out of 12.
MJ Nicholls
Better to read Dickens in week-long rushes—serialised readers, without the aid of Wiki or plot recaps, will have to summon the heroic powers of recall commonly the resource of Victorian bookworms. How torturous to be put on tenterhooks for months as to John Rokesmith’s identity enigma, to think of the vagabond Wegg ruining the sweet old Mr Boffin. Perhaps now, at the end of my Monster Dickens reading, it is pertinent to ask of these novels—page-turners of their day, morally instructional enterta ...more
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.”

I have certainly been looking at Our Mutual Friend on my TBR shelf for years. He kept shaking my fist at it, muttering “One day, damn you! One day!”

Started July 5th, finished August 20th, that is almost two months. It took so long because it is over 800 pages in length, and I read it mostly it in audiobook format. On my commutes to work, which means no progress most weekends. Towards the end of the book,
[italiano sotto]

So far, my favourite among Dickens’s books; it made me want to read them all (in order of writing, why not?).
It makes you laugh, it makes you think, it makes you move. And it makes you wonder. And it makes you admire.
And it disorientates you.

From halfway on, you are less disoriented. But in the meantime you have come to love Mr and Mrs Boffin.

Then the central theme seems to become the corruption - or the risk of corruption, the fear and the charm of corruption - that money brings
Grace Tjan
3.5 stars


What I learned from this book (in no particular order):

1. You can use the same adjective 19 times in a short chapter to describe a single character and still be considered a great literary stylist. Yes, I get it, Mr. Dickens: Bella’s adorable father is CHERUBIC.

2. It is perfectly acceptable to deceive your wife-to-be, and even marry her under an assumed identity, for the noble purpose of ascertaining her moral worthiness.

3. Once you are convinced that she is no gold-digger, sh
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: victorian
Sometimes when a man is a stalker it's a good thing and sometimes when a man is a stalker it's a bad thing. My name is Charles Dickens and I will not be elaborating ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A reread with the Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans: At one of our meetings a speaker said this was not only Dickens’s most cynical work, but also a fairy-tale. For some reason, that helped one of the members who'd been struggling greatly with the novel.

I struggled with a way to review this complicated novel, as any way I thought of would contain spoilers, especially my thoughts on why Lizzie Hexam is a character that has ‘legs.’

So, I will only say:

When I first read this however many years ago,
Lance Greenfield
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tbr-again
I first read Our Mutual Friend when I was thirteen years old, and I awarded it five stars on Goodreads based on my memory of that first read. I always remembered this as my favourite Charles Dickens novel, and I am still strongly of that opinion. If I could award it yet another five stars, I would. This is a classic masterpiece.

Yards of literary analysis has been written about this book over the decades, and I could not possibly compete with those who have written before me. After all, English L
Katie Lumsden
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
As brilliant on a 5th read as on a first.
RM(Alwaysdaddygirl) Griffin (alwaysdaddyprincess)
4 stars.

I took an extremely long time because of the fact that certain words can make sadder. It does not have to mirror the situation exactly. Again, it just words.

Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, classics
Again with a Dickens book, I’m reminded of a song:

Money, money, money
Must be funny
In the rich man's world
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
Aha aha
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world
It's a rich man's world

Money, Money, Money – Abba

Can’t you just picture Bella, if she lived in the 1970s, singing that song with gusto?

So I sit at the end of a very long journey, not just this particular long journey (it’s a big book) but through the worlds of Ch
Aug 02, 2008 marked it as to-read
I don't know if I was supertired or Dickens gawt slawppy, but I spent three pages last night thinking I was reading about the inner life of a dinner table the family had nicknamed "Twemlow".

The confusing to passage: There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street, Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twemlow. Being first cousin to Lord
"The best things in the book are in the old best manner of the author. They have that great Dickens quality of being something which is pure farce and yet which is not superficial; an unfathomable farce -- a farce that goes down to the roots of the universe" (p.827 from the original Everyman's preface by G. K. Chesterton) ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Yet another revisit—my third at least of this one. Dickens last completed novel tells many intertwined stories, but there are three central threads. We have the old miser Mr Harmon recently deceased, who has left all his wealth to his only son John on condition that he marries Bella Wilfer, a young lady Mr Harmon has ‘picked’ because of her not very pleasant nature. But as our story opens, Gaffer Hexam who makes his living pulling out bodies from the Thames and handing them to the authorities, h ...more
Michael Perkins
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The difference between Austen and Dickens, from Nabokov's lectures on literature....


Our Mutual Friend was Dickens last completed novel (1864-1865) and it was interesting to learn that it was not that popular with readers of the time compared with many of his other novels. But also that it became popular with modern readers.

Certainly the great dust mound and the practice of scavengers dragging drowned bodies out of the Thames to rifle through their
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Daniel Deronda
  • Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands
  • A Cross Line
  • Wives and Daughters
  • Mary Barton
  • The Quest of the Silver Fleece
  • A Room with a View
  • Women in Love
  • The Warden (Chronicles of Barsetshire, #1)
  • Father and Son
  • The Strange Ride Of Morrowbie Jukes (1899)
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset
  • Adam Bede
  • Dr. Thorne (Chronicles of Barsetshire #3)
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • Summer Will Show
  • East Lynne
See similar books…
Charles John Huffam Dickens was a writer and social critic who created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.


Related Articles

The Brothers Grimm aren't the only source of major inspiration for young adult books. Some of the buzziest reinventions base their...
88 likes · 22 comments
“And O there are days in this life, worth life and worth death.” 2202 likes
“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” 542 likes
More quotes…