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The Old Curiosity Shop

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  16,739 ratings  ·  1,091 reviews
The archetypal Victorian melodrama, as heartfelt and moving today as when it was first published, Charles Dickens's The Old Curiosity Shop is edited with notes and an introduction by Norman Page in Penguin Classics.

Little Nell Trent lives in the quiet gloom of the old curiosity shop with her ailing grandfather, for whom she cares with selfless devotion. But when they are
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Paperback, 576 pages
Published January 25th 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1840)
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Bionic Jean
The Old Curiosity Shop was the most popular of Dickens's novels during his lifetime. Yet now there is perhaps no other novel by him which splits opinion so much. How can that be?

The simple answer is that tastes change. Just as with modern-day fantasy stories the reader has to suspend their disbelief, accepting the basic premise of the magical or dystopian world described, with Dickens one has to "go along with" his unique view of the world. Yes, he was writing about everyday characters and the
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Henry Avila
In the slums of London in the mid 1800's, on a dirty, lonely and obscure street, a crumbling house still stands, The Old Curiosity Shop. Inside lives an old man (never named), and his pretty, young granddaughter, Nell Trent in the back of the building. An older, lazy brother of Nell's, Frederick is always coming to the house, trying to get some more cash ( he already has wasted, too much) from the grandfather, he needs for his drinking. The almost worthless merchandise the store has, strange ...more
Paul Bryant
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
AN EQUILIBRIUM OF DISGUST AND DELICIOUSNESS

You have rarely read a novel in which the bad stuff is so so so bad and the good stuff so good and the crunching wrenching sounds of the gear changes between the good bits and the bad bits can be heard from three streets away. Little Nell and her grandfather will revolt modern readers the former is treated with a religious sanctimoniousness which would make a vicar throw up into the collection plate, and the latter is a gambling addict and depressive
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Kenny
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such is the difference between yesterday and today. We are all going to the play, or coming home from it.
Charles Dickens ~~ The Old Curiosity Shop


1

I have a strange history with The Old Curiosity Shop. I bought it in 2009. Started reading it in 2012. Lost it in a move. Found it in 2014. Misplaced it while shelving books. Found it again in 2019. And now, finally finished it. So my annual December Dickensthon took place this autumn. And that's OK, ~~ honestly, this feels very much like an autumnal
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Jason Koivu
Dec 02, 2008 rated it liked it
Charles Dickens likes to beat the shit out of his main characters. It's like a form of domestic abuse!

Has he beaten the crap out of another character more than poor little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shop? Certainly Pip and Oliver get theirs. But at least with them there's some sort of happy ending or comeuppance for the villains. Like Little Dorrit without the uplifting ending, Nell is flat out beat down. Time and again she is taken advantage of and there is no redemption, not in my eyes. Sure,
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Jeff
What a long, strange trip its been?

Finally finished the last of the complete Dickens novels.

*awkwardly high-fives himself*

Its easy to see how Boz (Dickens nickname) was the pre-eminent novelist of the 19th century, plus Silk Degrees is one of my wifes favorite albums. Dickens once again provides a heady mixture of comedy and pathos and even though the ending was spoiled by accounts of American readers sinking British vessels because they didnt have the last serialized installment of this
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Perry
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing."
Oscar Wilde

In this, the third Dickens novel (1841), one can see Dickens stropping his sharp sabre of social satire with the tale of "little" Nell Trent (almost 14) and her emotionally unstable grandfather going on the run across the dismal English countryside to escape the monstrously malevolent Daniel Quilp, a grotesque, hunchbacked dwarf usurer, once gramps runs up a huge debt to Quilp after becoming addicted to
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MJ Nicholls
Not too sentimental. Oscar Wilde was clearly in a bad mood. Boasts the evillest dwarf outside German folklore, the irrepressible Qulip. Cute kid (view spoiler) and her put-upon granddaddy (view spoiler) in King Lear and Cordelia metaphor. A crackerbox of eccentrics: the morally unsure Dick Swiveller, the ruthless Brasses (precursor of the legal vipers in Bleak House), the hero-in-waiting Kit. A rodomontade of freaks and carnies, from Mrs Jarleys ...more
Brad
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
Another masterful confection of pathos and comic genius, this time featuring such characters as the slacker Dick Swiveler and the cruel Daniel Quilp.


My generic comment about Charles Dickens:
First of all, although I am a partisan of Dickens' writing and have read and relished most his works, I concede to three flaws in his oeuvre that are not insignificant. First, while he seemed to develop an almost endless variety of male social types, his female characters are much less well developed. Second,
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Barry Pierce
Dickens, how dare you end the novel like that! MY EMOTIONS YOU PIG-DOG! This was great, really great (obviously, it's Dickens for goodness sake). The story of Little Nell and her grandfather is tragic and beautiful, while Daniel Quilp is an incredibly dastardly Dickensian villain (he's no Bill Sikes though). Read this because it's Dickens and he's a fucking genius.
Tristram Shandy
A Treacly Treat

Written between the spring of 1840 and the late autumn of 1841 for the weekly serial Master Humphreys Clock, Dickenss The Old Curiosity Shop is utterly blemished by the constraints on a writers imagination such a serial publication demands, for the novel is extremely ill-composed, its plot comes out as threadbare and rather pointless, and some of the characters undergo rather improbable changes. In fact, had this been the first Dickens novel I had ever laid eyes on, I would
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Darwin8u
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018, british
I'm going to chew on this one a bit. Like many of Dickens novels, the characters that stick with me are minor characters, or the bad guys. I'm not sure the novel could exist without Nell and Kit, but they were both too angelic, too mono, too one-dimensional. If I'm going to pick a monochromatic side, I'm going to go with the nihilist dwarf, Daniel Quilp. There is something about this Dickens villian that is just fantastic. However, I much preferred the rounder characters in this book, especially ...more
Ines
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I managed to finish it during these Christmas vacation days, unfortunately among all the works of Dickens read so far, this is definitely the least convincing that I read...
I struggled to identify with almost all the characters, who were, many and often ended up, ( as for Bleak house) confusing them among themselves.
Nell, poor girl, pitied me from the first page to the last without being able to arouse a minimum of affective empathy ( unlike Honoria of Bleak house)
The plot is not at all linear,
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Mona
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5

A Dickensian "Alice in Wonderland"


"Curiosity Shop" vs. "Alice

This novel, serialized in 1840 and 1841, and published as a book in 1841, reminds me in some respects of "Alice in Wonderland" (published in 1865).

Maybe it's that they're both British Victorian novels. Maybe it's the abundance of eccentric (and even lunatic) characters that seems to be the specialty of British novelists of the time. Maybe it's the original (and quite wonderfully demented) illustrations by George Cattermole and
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Dean
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Dickens!!!
Until now it was Oliver Twist, but the heartbreaking story of Nell and his grandfather did overwhelm me!!

Besides, this is a novel so well written that I want to say this is indeed one of Dickens best works ever..
The characters are so full of life..
The villains like Quilp the ugly and evil dwarf, or Brass the corrupt layer and his sister Sally are so abominable..

Like no other novel of Dickens, this one lives from the contrast between young and old, evil and good, poor and
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Lisa Wolf
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fiction
I loved The Old Curiosity Shop! I have to admit that I hadn't even heard about this book before I started poking around for another Dickens novel to read. It really has everything in it that Dickens is known for -- quirky characters, villains and heroes, harsh justice and redemption, and plenty of humorous moments too. I found myself captivated by the story, furious at the grandfather, and full of pity for poor Little Nell. A great read.
Lisa
Oct 10, 2010 rated it liked it
The book itself is okay--(a young girl and her grandfather flee London to escape an evil creditor)--but for me the real fun was reading a story that people got so excited about over 150 years ago. According to Wikipedia, "In 2007, many newspapers claimed the excitement at the release of the last volume of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' was the only historical comparison that could be made to the excitement at the release of the last Harry Potter novel .... Dickens fans were reported to storm the piers ...more
Julie Davis
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rereading/relistening for the fourth time - I have an unreasoning love for this book even though it suffers from a lot of the same sort of problems as Nicholas Nickleby. What can I say? Partly it's because of Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness. Partly it's because Quilp is so utterly evil and singleminded. But that's not all of it. I just love every bit of it.

I'm struck anew by the accurate look at addiction and the toll it exacts upon loved ones as well as the addict.

Original review below.

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Hannah
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm revising my rating because I just don't have good memories of this book. I got a two-volume set from around the 1880s, and decided to read through it; I kinda liked Nell, but it was like slogging through mud for me to get into the story. Well, I made it to the end of the first volume, and by then I'd invested enough time to put it aside, so I gritted my teeth and ploughed into it. I could hardly wait to finish the final chapter, because this villain is utterly bad and was totally creeping me ...more
Manny
Dec 09, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Duntay
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am quite worried by this insipid-looking woman on the cover...

So far my favourite character is Whiskers the pony. I'm not sure if that bodes well.

I confess: I abandoned Little Nell. In a drawer, in a B&B in Tobermory. I did however finish the book, after lugging it about since March. I'm afraid my initial reservations were confirmed: Nell was insipid, and Whiskers the pony was ace. Especially as it is reported that his final act was to kick his doctor in his last illness. The doctor is
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Duffy Pratt
Apr 25, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classic
Daniel Quilp stands short in stature, but has a large spirit. A dwarf, he has endured the prejudice and the malign intentions of people who judge him solely on his appearance. For example, one character (Kit) says of Quilp that he is uglier than anyone you might pay to see in a circus freak show. Despite the relentless hostility towards him, Quilp, through his intelligence, his energy, and his large spirit, has managed to rise in the ranks of the business world. But even his success does nothing ...more
Alex
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: victorian
The Old Curiosity Shop seems the perfect title for this novel, even thought the titular shop hardly features beyond the first few chapters. It's a perfect curio, a ramshackle assortment of strange Dickensian characters and one never knows what one will find from one chapter to the next. There's no overarching plot or purpose, and the novel revolves around a bunch of characters, namely Daniel Quilp, Richard Swiveller, Little Nell and Kit Nubbles - for starters - all vaguely loosely connected, but ...more
Jeanette (Again)

"...and so do things pass away, like a tale that is told."

When I started this novel I got all excited, thinking it might be even better than Great Expectations, my favorite Dickens novel to date. What always happens to me with Charles Dickens, though, is that my interest starts to fade about 2/3 of the way through the book. He has many sub-plots going all at once, and he abandons some of them for so long in order to focus on just one. Often the one he favors is the one I'm least interested in,
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Ann-Marie
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglophilia
Oh, "The Death of Little Nell." I dreaded reading " The Old Curiosity Shop, " because I didn't want to deal with it. We've all heard about her death so many times it has become a caricature, a maudlin tear-jerker. Cue the tiny violins.
In putting off reading this book I denied myself a very good, complicated study of some typical Dickensian characters, the dishonest lawyer, the good mother, the jolly baby, a cantankerous pony, the evil, unlovable stereotype (This time a dwarf).
They are all
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Mikey B.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Once more I find Dickens to be a story-teller of the first rank, full of zest and a love of life. Almost everything is perfect, but more on this qualification later. The book is so engaging all the physical and psychological traits of the characters are so well rendered. The images of streets, houses, and the countryside are superb. In a biography of Dickens I read some time ago it was related that he was a massive walker wandering, sometimes daily, several miles through city streets and ...more
Ayu Palar
Apr 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than a century ago, people were waiting on the docks at New York to ask a question to passengers from England Is Nell dead?. So influential Old Curiosity Shop to those readers lives! And how Little Nell has stolen many readers hearts! I adore the novel so much and I do think that Little Nells life is tragic, yet I didnt shed any tear when I closed the last page of the book. There are other elements of the book that attract me more, especially the rich description that successfully builds ...more
Sergio
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Theres Little Nell, an orphan, and her grandfather says, she shall be rich one of these days, and a fine lady. They are devoted to one another, and as the story unfolds, we see that Nell is the most devoted. The girl cares for the old man, and when they leave the shop she leads him on their journey.
The narrative is full of picturesque and amazing characters, vivid images of city life and nature, with the villains plotting cunningly and the honest people coming to rescue, but not always in time,
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Thomas
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
TheSkepticalReader
More so like a 2.5 star. Its a bit stereotypical and I felt like Dickens never fully did Nell justice in the end. And the dwarf being the obvious evil dude is also eye roll worthy. ...more
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print shop, print shop in mumbai 1 1 Sep 19, 2019 01:33AM  
The Old Curiosity...: Film adaptations of TOCS 15 15 May 21, 2019 09:08AM  
The Old Curiosity...: TOCS. Chapters 36 - 40 70 9 Apr 22, 2019 10:11AM  
The Old Curiosity...: TOCS Chapters 56 - 60 44 13 Apr 21, 2019 05:32AM  
The Old Curiosity...: TOCS: Chapters 16 -20 120 9 Apr 09, 2019 11:48AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correction 10 26 Feb 12, 2019 11:30AM  
Gothic Literature: 3. The Old Curiosity Shop, Dickens ch XXXVIII-LXXII (38-72) The end 2 9 Jan 18, 2019 01:57PM  

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22,164 followers
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.

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