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Our Mutual Friend

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  24,270 ratings  ·  1,317 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)
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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…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)
Joe It was written and released in 19 monthly installments from 1864-1865.

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4.07  · 
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 ·  24,270 ratings  ·  1,317 reviews

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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
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.
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 c
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. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller (quoting from the character Bella Wilfer in the book), "money, money, money, and what money can make of life." In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames and identified as that of John Harmon, a y
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

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
Charles Dickens is one of my favourite authors and I have read fair number of his books. And so far, two have become my favourites; those being David Copperfield and Bleak House . But if I were asked to name my three favourites, none of the Dickens works have made it through, until now. I say until now, for Our Mutual Friend compensates heavily for the exclusion.

This is the last complete work by Dickens and I read that this work is much criticized as being "less Dickensian". There is probab
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, satire, 2018, 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
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 geological formation was Dust. Coal-dus
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
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
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 B ...more
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,
Rebecca McNutt
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, fiction
Money has a way of making excellent fiction all the more powerful and dire. At first I didn't really understand Our Mutual Friend and even thought it was a little boring personally, but it's the kind of story that you can't put down and it gets much better as it goes. It has so many themes but its strong suit is that it can switch from funny to somber in a sudden instant, keeping it engaging and surprising 'till the end.
[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
Mεδ Rεδħα
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
I am fortunate enough not to have had the novels of Dickens urged onto me as a child or been required to write about them at university. I encountered them properly in middle age and have re-read them with enormous pleasure since. Our Mutual Friend may not be his greatest novel, but in some ways it is his most compelling. From the opening paragraph, the dark imagery comes straight off the page and into your visual imagination and, as an illustrator, I find it irresistible: the autumn evening clo ...more
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.

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
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’ most cynical work, but also a fairy-tale. For some reason, that helped one of the members who had 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,
"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)
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
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.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s many a year since I picked up this book, and reading it through it now I did find myself wondering whether this was a favourite of Samuel Beckett’s. After all it’s the novel with three large dust piles sat in a yard - which may, or may not, contain valuables - and a one legged, ‘literary’ man who scours through them. (It is certainly echoed in ‘Happy Days’). Furthermore there is a young/old, tiny and crippled maker of clothes for dolls, and a character with a death-like name who – as his ho ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
The white face of the winter day came sluggishly on, veiled in a frosty mist; and the shadowy ships in the river slowly changed to black substances; and the sun, blood-red on the eastern marshes behind dark masts and yards, seemed filled with the ruins of a forest it had set on fire.

Seven months of nibbles, most of these clusters, all braced with serious efforts to remember characters, enlisting wikipedia and rereading, rather often, entire chapters. I'm glad I read such, though I felt most of t
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
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
3.5 stars

The way this book started gave me chills. Imagine a dark night in which a young woman is rowing a boat on the Thames, her father, a gruff man, steering the boat as he searches the murky water for drowned bodies that he can rob before tying them to his boat and dragging them to shore to turn them over to the authorities for a fee. The daughter keeps her gaze averted as her father leans over the boat and finally snags a body. He yells at her to watch him, her face a frozen mask as she wat
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“This reminds me, Godmother, to ask you a serious question. You are as wise as wise can be (having been brought up by the fairies), and you can tell me this: Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”

At first look, Our Mutual Friend seems to be a brick of a Victorian novel where the themes of family life, marriage, class and money will be treated in a strong fashion. This is correct and yet this description doesn’t even scratch the surface of this amazing boo
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Dickens’ last completed novel, when one comes to think of it, is essentially about money. “Society” revolves around it (‘status’ pretty much comes with it), as do individuals, each in their own way, be it the off-putting (and also somewhat pathetic) drunk who wants some for his “three-pennyworths of rum”, or a pair of swindlers (of sorts- also off-putting because of their acts though perhaps, not of themselves) who seek their fortune; a “secret” money lender who enjoys tormenting his so-
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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.

“And O there are days in this life, worth life and worth death.” 2213 likes
“No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.” 531 likes
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