Rick Kastelein

I just tried this book yesterday, and barely came trough the first 30 pages. I didnt exactly know who said what, and what there was said. Is it true that this book may be quite a work to read? That i just should try again in som years? Or do you have any tips on how to read this book in a nice way? :)

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Sarah A Tale of Two Cities is definitely a challenging novel, so please don't feel discouraged if you're not getting as much out of it as you hoped! It is true that the novel takes a bit of thought and, for lack of a better word, work to get through. But for all the obstacles, I do believe that it was worth every painstaking second!

The best advice I can give you are as follows:
1. Download a dictionary app on your mobile and keep it near you while you read. It's a quick way to improve comprehension. And Dickens really loved his vocab words!
2. If you ever come across a sentence or paragraph which you can't quite understand, the best thing to do is read it one (or two) more times, and just move on. If you can just get the general gist of what Dickens is trying to say, then you're doing great! Try not to get too hung up on parts you don't understand.
3. If there is a point in the plot which is a bit confusing, briefly skim over the section once, lock that moment in your mind, and move on. A Tale of Two Cities is like a drama. The first half is the set up, and may be crazy confusing, but everything comes together in the end to paint one amazing picture.
4. Try going to summary sites like litcharts or sparknotes. I really recommend litcharts, which gives you a detailed summary of what happened in the novel, and also gives analyses. Here's the site: http://www.litcharts.com/lit/a-tale-o...
5. Buy an annotated edition of A Tale of Two Cities. If you get the Barnes and Nobles edition, they'll give you footnotes and endnotes, which really clarify the historical and political situation. I'm not quite sure of Penguin Classics' endnotes, since I stick to B&N, but both companies are very good.

Again, this is a really challenging book. I really hope you decide to push on with Dickens, because he is worth it at the end! But I also completely understand if you want to take a break and lay the novel off to the side for a bit. There's nothing wrong with taking a break from a book!

Best wishes~
Kara This book is definitely worth the effort! Just don't rush it. Read a few pages or chapters, and then put it down if you want to. It's ok if it takes you the span of a few months to read it. It will give you time for everything to sink in and stay. It took me quite a while, but it is my favorite!
Sophie Freedman-Lawson I read this book recently, and had a similar reaction at the beginning. I spent the first three quarters of the book feeling mildly confused, and not particularly captivated. However, when one hits the last quarter, it all makes sense. The last chapters are really beautiful, but can't be so unless one persists through the first part. It isn't an easy read, but it's worth the effort.
K Hansen Skip the first chapter. It sets the tone but doesn't add to the plot. There are lots of allusions to the time period which modern readers won't understand. It can bog you down unnecessarily.

The second chapter is dark and confusing, but focus on Jarvis Lorry (one of the passengers) and Jerry Cruncher (the man riding the horse delivering the message). He is supposed to be a funny sidekick. Don't take him too seriously. He talks to himself in third person. It's funny. Lorry is dreaming when in the coach, that's what makes it confusing.

You will soon meet Lucy (golden haired sweet heart) and Miss Pross (associated with the color red). Again, look at Miss Pross as a bit of a comical figure. When she pushes Lorry across the room to defend Lucy, it is supposed to be funny. Look at Lorry's reaction to her. Funny.

Then, as you proceed, think of it as a mystery. Dickens intentionally doesn't tell the reader everything. He will eventually and everything connects.

It is so worth the effort.
Janey Listen to it read aloud (how Dickens intended his books to be experienced.) I loved the Audible version narrated by Martin Jarvis. Even if you find the language a bit obscure, he reads it so well that you can understand all you need to and the story romps along after the first few chapters - I listened while washing up, walking, gardening... couldn't stop.
Nikola Janevski I use this web site:

which has the original and modern version of the text. I find it very useful when I am struggling with the meaning of a paragraph or sentence.

A vocabulary list for each chapter can be found here:

In addition, I also use this study guide:

English is not my native language but I am very fluent.
Brad Ryder Many good answers here, most very encouraging. I would suggest that you NOT read Sparknotes, or easy versions, or skip chapters, etc. Keep reading and re-reading Dickens' word maze and eventually you may get used to the style, as I did. But to rely on simpler versions or a summary is doing yourself a disservice. Get the real Dickens experience!
Deepak Pitaliya First part of the book is very difficult to read and does not make much sense. But it is simpler thereafter and third part of the book is really engrossing. Just read and don't worry much about not understanding the book.
Matt "A Tale of Two Cities" is about the French Revolution (~1789~). To readers in London, 1859, it was relatively recent history. They would have had much more context to understand the book. For someone outside of Europe in 2018, it might require a bit more research before diving in.

I recommend looking up a documentary on Youtube to gain a good understanding of the French Revolution. You may also want to read an edition with good footnotes that can explain certain events that Dickens references. Dickens used "The French Revolution: A History" by Thomas Carlyle as one of his primary sources. It might be worth paging through that book as well.

I just finished "A Tale of Two Cities" and thoroughly enjoyed it. The beginning is kind of slow going, as Dickens takes his time to get readers invested in the characters, but the time is well worth it, as the last third really gets intense, and the characters are caught up in the midst of the revolution.

I hope this advice is helpful to you as you read next time. It really is a worthwhile book, one that will certainly be at the top of my list for years to come.
Shahzada Ayub I felt the same: Confused. Overwhelmed. And thwarted. But guess what? I never gave up and kept on reading and reading. Slowly and bit by bit, I started making sense of the plot, the characters, events and every technical detail. And then, ah! It was worth the time and efforts!
Conan Edogawa A Tale of Two Cities is made so people think and actually look for hidden meaning on every word. Supposedly there are many hints for future chapter if you are paying very close attention you might find them. Good luck with the book!
Pat Campbell Reading the other posts here, I said, "OK, it wasn't' just me." It is a bit tricky at first, but slog your way through. As you approach the end the plot moves much more quickly: expect an unexpected, gripping, dramatic ending. :)
Rhedyn The first section is, as it announces, a setting of "The Times." I was twelve when I first read this, and it instantly became my favorite book. The plot comes later. Just keep on plowing through the setting...
Wael Just go on reading and you will love it... You will get it soon... The first 50 pages are confusing however it is so amazing novel
Gina I think you will find that you pick up more of the plot than you think while reading. Books aren't meant to give you the whole picture. I was very confused about most of the events of the book, but once I looked up the plot line of the section I had just finished, I had actually understood most of what occurred before I looked. Keep trying. It is worth the effort.
Josué G. Malpica I read it, I finished it in December 2015,
and I am not even a native speaker of the English language. No dictionary, no help, and my teacher was away. And still I got the general idea and I loved the characters.

Books that immortal from 2 centuries past, are always challenging. Those were other times.

So, do not feel discouraged. Wait until you read James Joyce and tell me what hell feels like.
Rahimi I too have same issues. It's hard to follow the story and connect dots, specially when english is not your mother's tongue.
Kate Walpole I've just finished it, it took me a year. It was hard. I used a lot of supports; for example I made myself a character map (like a mind map but listing all the characters, how they related to each other and who they were) and after I read each chapter, I read the chapter summary in the spark notes. It was worth the effort, a great book.
Gail Fitzpatrick I read this novel in high school. It remains one of my favorite all time books. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . ." I remember it still.
Shyam Mohan please dont quit this book. It will surely be a feast towards the end.
Ella Yes- so worth it though! I used the online Spark Notes "No Fear" translation of the text to help me work through the more difficult bits and parts with allusions I didn't understand or accents I couldn't decipher. Incredible, though - I hope everyone reads it, as it gets so interesting as it goes along!
CJ Rick, I am so glad you posted this. I felt the exact same way! I am going to try again and either give it time or listen to it on audio.
Nicholas Knight I am currently reading this book, and let me tell you it's some work. I have the Barnes and Noble Collectible version, and I was having a hard time so I found the Amazon Kindle version and the audio follows along word for word. It helps a lot!
Shey i am starting this book as well and am having similar problems with following it. someone suggested to read while the audio book plays. I found an audio version i liked on youtube and I have that playing while i follow along. So far that is helping me.
Geraldine Kelly The Audiobook helped me.
Abdul Basith Surprised to see such a question. Because, I had exactly the same thoughts when I started this novel a year or so ago. I could not keep going; often will put me into doze or leave me obscured without letting me get anything out of it. I started anew two or three times after reading some 70- 100 pages. Each time, I gained some grip and the content got settled in my mind so that gradually, I started vividly picturing the novel as I read.

In my opinion, this novel draws a picture of the French revolution days; the impact made on people's minds with a relatively simple plot. As said by so many readers, it might be dry at the beginning. Those who cross a quarter will definitely make it to the end.

As a recommendation, for beginners like me Kindle app will be ideal. It has a dictionary and a comfortable bookmarking mechanism.

Happy reading!
Marie My First time reading this book was quite a challenge. But I am now rereading and really enjoying it. I'm taking my time and soaking it all in. Often the second time around allows the beauty of the book to penetrate into my soul. I've never read a Dickens book I didn't like.
Claire I agree. I started reading it in print, then switched to the audio version. I started realizing I wasn't paying attention... I can't follow the stilted language, can't figure out why the Dr. was in prison for 18 years, don't understand who's on trial... Is there a movie I can watch instead?
Reader This book is a quite a hard read for most people. If you really want to enjoy this book, look at its meaning, not what it is saying. And if you have some problems with reading the book, just get a dictionary and search up the words as needed.
antony green I could get through it easily and I am nine
Josh McCormack I agree, it can be hard going. I listened to an audio version from Libra Vox, so I "read" it very fast, and I referenced http://www.gradesaver.com/tale-of-two... so I could keep track. I plan on using that site or another like it when I try reading Jane Austen again, or any Russian novels.
Tushar Mohan I read "Oliver Twist" (yes, I know it is supposed to be in italics) first, and I felt it was far more periphrastic and difficult to read. As a result, I was much more accustomed to reading "A Tale of Two Cities" (I know). I would suggest using a dictionary (preferably one online, as it will likely include older words). I would also suggest using analyses online in the case that you struggle to understand the plot or its themes. After some time of reading Dickens, you develop a "part of your brain" that exclusively processes his work, and it becomes much easier to read through.
Sara I had the same issue, but the problem goes away after that and it becomes clearer. I was very confused after the third chapter, so before moving on I read a summary of the chapters I read so far on cliffnotes just to make sure I got everything right. I didn't have as much difficulty afterwards and I don't need to read the summary anymore.
If you read on ibooksyou can define a word if you highlight it and choose define from the list that appears. Besides the book is for free on the bookstore.
Good luck!
Caitlin Work through the first half. Really, you have to struggle through the first half that is almost entirely exposition. After that though, the real story unfolds. I promise- it's worth it. The best and entirely redeeming part of this book is the last quarter. Had me in tears, and I can rarely say that about a book.
Limin Lu I listened to the audio track of this book while I am reading. Thanks to the audio track, it get me through the hard parts and help me through the whole book. The third parts of this book is really amazing.
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