Laura's Reviews > A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classic, perennial-favorite, english-lit

Years of teaching this novel to teenagers never dimmed my thrill in reading it — if anything, I grew to love it more every time I watched kids gasp aloud at the revelations! Critics are divided on its place in the Dickens canon, but the ones who think it an inferior work are simply deranged. It has everything: dark deeds, revolution, madness, love, thwarted love, forgiveness, revenge, and a stunning act of self-sacrifice. And melodrama! Oh, how Dickens loved melodrama, but in A Tale of Two Cities it reaches truly grand proportions.

It’s the ultimate mystery novel: characters act strangely, but always for a reason. Miscellaneous people drift in and out, but they’re not truly miscellaneous — you just have to wait to see how they’re connected. And like any good mystery, the payoff at the end is worth the time it takes to get there...and what a payoff! Dickens is a master of the type of narration that simultaneously moves forward and back in time. In other words, strategically placed revelations from the past inform the present and shape the future. The brilliant timing both of his hints and of the actual revelations is a bonus field of study. Merely the drama of the dark past and its impact on the “here and now” story is thrilling enough. Plus, A Tale of Two Cities is a profoundly moral story, with themes of vengeance versus forgiveness, sins of the fathers being visited on the children, resurrection and rebirth, and the possibility of redemption.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 12, 2008 – Shelved
June 12, 2008 – Shelved as: classic
June 12, 2008 – Shelved as: perennial-favorite
August 10, 2011 – Shelved as: english-lit

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Eldridge And if it weren't for teachers like yourself, that loved this, students such as myself may never have grown to love it, even more as an adult, 33 yrs later, so to all you teachers of literature I say thank you!!


message 2: by Laura (last edited May 08, 2009 11:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura Tom wrote: "And if it weren't for teachers like yourself, that loved this, students such as myself may never have grown to love it, even more as an adult, 33 yrs later, so to all you teachers of literature I s..."

What a sweet thing to say! Thank you!! Sometimes I think great literature is wasted on the young (some of it certainly was wasted on me), but the hope is that students will revisit the books later in life and get more out of them. And you just confirmed my hopes!


message 3: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom Eldridge Nice to know I confirmed that for you. For the past 8 yrs or so I have been reading (or often re-reading) the classics, and discovering wondrous things, either for the first time, or because I was too young previously to "get it", A Tale Of Two Cities was one of those. I had an English teacher in high school who was a fanatic for Fitzgerald, and am I glad he was, he taught me an appreciation for F. Scott that I cherish to this day, still my favorite author. SO keep up the good work!!!!


Jordan Love this book!


Robert Spencer I read an interesting thing about this novel and its tendency for melodrama. In later life, Dickens had started making more of a living from reading his works aloud to packed theatres. As this later work was written during that period, it was written as much as a spoken word performance piece as a normal novel, so that was why he inserted so many exclamations and little remarks from the narrator.


Randa love this novel so much since i was at 3rd prep.amazing one


Michael Schmidt I agree this book reads like a mystery. It kept me engaged and wondering whether the characters I have come to care about so much would find happiness.


message 8: by Terry (new)

Terry Laura, reading your review, I couldn't have put it better myself. I first read A Tale of Two Cities as required reading in high school 40 years ago; it made such an impression on me, all these years I've wanted to re-read it (now from an adults perspective which made it even better)and finally had the opportunity last month. I agree with everything you said 100% and am so glad you are teaching it to your own classes in this generation. The book gets ahold of you in every sense of the word. Dickens was an amazing author & I look forward to reading more of his books.


message 9: by Viki (new)

Viki We read this in HS, too, and I have to say that I wouldn't have gotten anything out of it had it not been for a great teacher! (Especially the knitting, knitting...) I still can't say I loved reading Dickens, but at least she made us understand what we were reading. I do love watching the old movie though!


message 10: by Ginger (new) - added it

Ginger Scott Funny. How books can do that. Huh? I think it's great. That Authors can draw you in... Reading their work. And just get away from life. Entering into a whole new world. Reading not nerdy, but fun. Plus makes us more pleasant. When? We enjoy things from life... A lot of people might just take for granted.


message 11: by Enjwewn (new)

Enjwewn Is the collins classics edition a abridged version of the classic?


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