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Dombey and Son

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3.9  ·  Rating details ·  10,675 Ratings  ·  488 Reviews
Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens’s story of a powerful man whose callous neglect of his family triggers his professional and personal downfall, showcases the author’s gift for vivid characterization and unfailingly realistic description. As Jonathan Lethem contends in his Introduction, Dickens’s “genius . . . is at one with the genius of the form of the novel itself: Dicken ...more
Paperback, 880 pages
Published 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1848)
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Linden I am new to Dickens started with Bleak House, wow that was good, then Little Dorrit which I finished and then Our Mutual Friend which I did not. Had…moreI am new to Dickens started with Bleak House, wow that was good, then Little Dorrit which I finished and then Our Mutual Friend which I did not. Had thought I had read the best ones so very pleased to think there is another great read ahead of me(less)

Community Reviews

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Jean
Dombey and Son is a novel about pride and ambition. Paul Dombey, proud, wealthy, arrogant and frigid, is a man to whom the idea of "Dombey and Son" is paramount. There has always been a "Dombey and Son"; there will always be a "Dombey and Son". It is his whole world, his reason for being. Everything in his life is focused and directed towards this.

The full title of the book is Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation. Therefore the "son" of the title, alth
...more
Amanda
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This is by far my favorite Dickens after The Christmas Carol (whose reigning place has more to do with nostalgia than anything else). I found all of the characters interesting and compelling. None of them slowed down the narrative for me, unlike in Little Dorrit. This is a wonderfully dense book about families and gender roles and the different forms of love. I highly enjoyed so many of the plot lines. My favorite characters were Walter, Susan Nipper, Edith and Captain Cuttle. I'm not sure if I' ...more
Amanda
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I pretty much spent all day reading this. I really wanted to finish it in 2016 and I really got into last quarter of the book. This is my third Dickens as an adult (not counting the Christmas stories) and it is my least favorite of the 3 but it's still well worth the time to read it. There were a few too many coincidences needed to move the plot along and just some (I thought) unnecessary things but reading Dickens is like going on a long trip with a bunch of fun friends. It doesn't really matte ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Dombey and Son is one of Dickens' best! This novel, in my opinion, rivals Little Dorrit. The main protagonist, Florence Dombey is an amazing woman, full of strength and character which guides her through some incredibly miserable years. Some of the characters that Dickens develops during the course of this novel are some of the most heinously evil or sad, or full of goodness and love, or are just plain funny. There's a powerful message about the influence of "wealth", not just money, on the indi ...more
Laura
Oct 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I'm ashamed to admit that until I read this book, I hadn't read a lot of Dickens. I skimmed Great Expectations when I was in 9th grade, but only because I was forced, and I read A Christmas Carol for work once (long story, but I was working for an educational publishing company and we were doing a dumbed-down version). After finishing Dombey and Son, I'm afraid I don't have anything especially intelligent to add to the reams and reams that has been written about Dickens, except that I'm excited ...more
K.
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K. by: krislynelliott@yahoo.com
Rereading Summer 2015. Just read chapter 19, "Walter Goes Away" during breakfast today (11 June 2015). Seriously, there is no competition. Tears shed over grapefruit.

Enjoyed this immensely, again.

I know that some might feel that Florence's goodness (and that her goodness remained with her) in her loveless life is impossible. For me, I believe that this book is about keeping our peace and faith under great trial. Florence could have chosen to become bitter and angry, so many people in real-life
...more
Maria ní Chnoic
This book reminds me of a daytime soap opera. People arrive on the scene, die unexpectedly and dramatically disappear only to make an even more dramatic timely re-entrance. Dramatic co-incidences abound and are essential to the plot. Maybe this is as a direct result of its original serialisation by Dickens?

Overall, it’s a fun read. I found it easier to listen to on audio (due to Dickens long sentences) and the narrator (David Timson) was so good that I recognised voices of returning characters w
...more
Everyman
This was my first reading of Dombey and Son, and I found it to be one of Dickens’s less successful novels. I know some rank it highly. But I found the plot mostly uninteresting and even more dependent than is usual for Dickens on unlikely events and coincidences, and much of the writing turgid and uninspired. The first third of the book managed to engage me as the situations developed, but after that I increasingly read more out of duty than out of pleasure. I have enjoyed so much of Dickens’s w ...more
MJ Nicholls
A big bloated behemoth Dickens. An instructive homily on pride and behaving like a coldblooded douche towards your daughter because she isn’t a son. Once Dombey’s son dies (not a plot spoiler, it happens early on), the novel seems to collapse, start again. Britain was in mourning for Paul Dombey’s demise, and this grief is reflected in the sluggish pace that follows. Wonderful, wrenchingly excruciating scenes between Dombey, whose hauteur builds to pitches of teeth-grinding stubbornness, and his ...more
Viv JM
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Viv by: Julie Gilbert
3.5 stars, rounded up

Dombey and Son could be summed up with the adage: pride comes before a fall. It tells the tale of the downfall of the proud and arrogant Mr Dombey, who is (view spoiler). At times I found the book something of a slog, but there were also scenes that I enjoyed immensely, and scenes that had great emotional impact. Dickens imbues his characters with such distinct characteristics that they are v
...more
Sarah
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
I always love Dickens. This is my sixth by him. I am always left a little breathless by the wit with which he sketches his characters. This book certainly had its unforgettable characters, my favorites were Cap'n Cuttle, Walter Gay, Mr. Toots and Susan, and for villain, the sheer toothiness of Mr. Carker is downright awful.

I found the book a bit slow in its first half though the gradual build of Florence and little Paul's relationship, especially down at the sea was pivotal to the whole story an
...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This is a great mid-period Dickens written just about at the point where his optimism about human beings and his zest to improve the conditions of all the hapless grovellers is at the tipping point of being transformed by a horrible realisation that the corruption of the ruling classes, the venality of the middle classes and the ground-down-and-outness of the labouring men and women meant that only a root and branch revolution would do, reform would simply fail, be watered down by the circumlocu ...more
Sherwood Smith
Apr 12, 2013 added it
Shelves: fiction
Reading Dickens always reminds me that there was no such thing as an editor as we understand the function of an editor now. Dickens did carefully plot out his books — we have the evidence not only in letters but of his actual outline of how carefully this one was worked out. We can see through his letters where he deviated and where he stuck to the plot.

This is the first of his books that features a heroine rather than a hero at the center of the story. Florence, an unwanted daughter, is beneat
...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jimyanni
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Dickens as feminist? Not by 21st century definitions, perhaps, but by the standards of his own time, definitely. In this book, he very clearly perceives, and shows to the reader, the wrongness of a father discounting the value of his daughter simply because she is not a son, as well as various other indications of the wrongness of the discriminations visited upon women in his Victorian England, and the innate strength of many of his female characters in dealing with what their life forces them t ...more
Peter
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
First, full disclosure, I admire the work of Charles Dickens.

I believe that D&S is the first novel that gives the reader a look at a much more mature novelist than his earlier works. While Oliver Twist is better known than Dombey, and Pickwick a greater romp of fun, Dombey and Son is fully crafted and realized. Whatever the shortcomings of plot and character, the novel gives the reader a full, mature and comprehensive vision of human greed, blindness to family and inability to judge charact
...more
Julianne
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Absolutely
How the mighty fall. This book is literary genius, of course, and written by the master, Dickens. Beware your friends that serve too well with too bright and many teeth. Don't put all your eggs in one basket you might drop that basket. This book really brings to light all the mistakes that man can make in a broad spectrum but put them all into one man, Mr. Dombey. The lessons within the book are too numerous to mention; the plight of the poor who actually have so much contrasted against the plig ...more
Webster Bull
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This moves near the top of my list of Dickens favorites, to my surprise. I didn't expect "Dombey" to grab me as it did–and right from the start. Centered on the simplest of nuclear families, a widowed father and his two children, Dickens' novel opens out into an enormous human comedy of character and coincidence.

I don't know which is my favorite comic character: the lovelorn Mr. Toots, whose unrequited love for Miss Dombey knows no bounds, though he claims it is "of no consequence"; or the sea-
...more
Tristram
Pride Will Have a Fall

(view spoiler)
...more
Duffy Pratt
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic
This one is 800+ pages, and has about 300 pages of material in it. Worse, it almost feels like Dickens stepped back, analyzed his previous stuff, and decided that the problem with all of it was that there was too much fun. So he deliberately went out of his way to excise the fun, and accentuate the grim. Of course, being Dickens, he couldn't get rid of all the fun, and there are still some very charming moments here. But they are fairly few, and spread out sparsely over the course of what otherw ...more
Pamela
Dombey and Son has at its centre the repressed, cold, arrogant Paul Dombey and his neglected and unwanted daughter Florence. Obsessed with the fortune of his firm, Dombey and Son, and the necessity of passing it on to his sickly infant son, Dombey's pride leads him to a number of potentially ruinous actions, and both personal and professional errors of judgement.

The plot of this novel is less coherent and engaging than, say, Bleak House - events serve mainly to underpin a moral discourse on the
...more
Pat
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People seeking a return to classic novels' quality
Recommended to Pat by: Newsweek magazine
A RETURN TO DICKENS
As an English major, I had read (and enjoyed) virtually all of Dickens' biggees in high school and college. But why would I pick him up 35 years later? Well, last year, Newsweek listed "Dombey and Son" on its summer must-read list because of its sympathetic treatment of women. I downloaded it into my Nook months ago and finally started reading it on a monthlong overseas trip. First, I had forgotten how downright FUNNY Dickens can be. The droll turns of phrases reveal themselve
...more
DramaQueen
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, owned-books
Maybe it's because Dombey and Son is only my second Charles Dickens' novel (after the quite shorter A Christmas Carol), but I am blown away. I loved it. I thought it was going to be dense, which it was, slow, which it was, and time consuming, which it was as well; yet all of this just suited the book greatly. I got extremely invested in the story and characters -especially Florence, Walter and Edith- and even though it was not a page turner, my thoughts were with this story a lot.

I especially fo
...more
Anna Kļaviņa
My copy:Dombey and Son doesn't have notes at the end of the book, which I've found useful and interesting bonus material in Penguin Classic books.

Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation published in monthly parts from 1 October 1846 to 1 April 1848 and in one volume in 1848.

Favourite character: James Carker (the manager) and honorable mention to Miss Tox, Mrs Pipchin, Susan Nipper, Robin Toodle
Favourite couples: Miss Nipper/Mr Toots, Mr Carker/Mrs Dombey
...more
~ Cheryl ~

Chapter 1

Dombey sat in the corner of the darkened room in the great arm-chair by the bedside, and Son lay tucked up warm in a little basket bedstead, carefully disposed on a low settee immediately in front of the fire and close to it, as if his constitution were analogous to that of a muffin, and it was essential to toast him brown while he was very new.

Dombey was about eight-and-forty years of age; Son about eight-and-forty minutes. Dombey was rather bald, rather red, and though a handsome well
...more
Sullyfitz
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
Even though I had read many of Dickens' classics (Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Oliver Twist, and Martin Chuzzelwit) I had never heard of this book by Charles Dickens. I was looking for an engrossing tale to listen to on my Ipod and could not have come up with a better one. I downloaded it from audible and have to say that the narrator, David Timson, was fantastic--his ability to create unique voices for each of the odd characters (and in classic Dickens styl ...more
Debbie
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I listened to the Free LibriVox Audiobook version read by Mil Nicholson and I really enjoyed it. If you take the time to get into a Dickens novel you will see that they are quite entertaining. The is always a complex double plot. There is always heartbreak and humor and some lesson. The characters are always comical. The names alone will make you giggle. He seemed picked the most nonsensical names for his characters, even the serious ones. But I must say that a lot of the credit for my enjoyment ...more
Hugh Coverly
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Not one of Dickens's better novels. It is generally neglected, and there are good reasons why.

None of the central characters are compelling enough to grab readers and keep them interested in their eventual fate. The novel drags until about chapter 40 or so when the pace picks up considerably after Edith Dombey runs off with James Carker, and when Florence Dombey flees from home after her father beats her. Not many readers will hold out this long, I suspect.

The only central character I followed
...more
Sandra
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well over 1,000 pages in the book-format, Dombey and Son is Dickens’ longest novel. The son in the title is actually a daughter, which is what originally piqued my interest. There are two strong women in Dombey and Son---Florence, the daughter Dombey barely acknowledges and will not love, and Edith, his much-deserved cold and proud second wife. The stories of old man Dombey and the two women plus the various other intertwining stories and characters make for the kind of reading you would expect ...more
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Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He 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 sho ...more
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“If I dropped a tear upon your hand, may it wither it up! If I spoke a gentle word in your hearing, may it deafen you! If I touched you with my lips, may the touch be poison to you! A curse upon this roof that gave me shelter! Sorrow and shame upon your head! Ruin upon all belonging to you!” 26 likes
“Those darling byegone times, Mr Carker,' said Cleopatra, 'with their delicious fortresses, and their dear old dungeons, and their delightful places of torture, and their romantic vengeances, and their picturesque assaults and sieges, and everything that makes life truly charming! How dreadfully we have degenerated!” 12 likes
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