Caidyn (he/him/his)'s Reviews > A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites-all-time, classics, historical-fiction, quarantine-reads
Read 4 times. Last read April 1, 2020 to April 8, 2020.

The first time I heard of this book was in high school, specifically my sophomore year in World History. We had just finished taking notes over the French Revolution. Then... my teacher pulled down the projector screen and we all knew what this meant: Movie. And, we watched this movie. Well, a made to TV movie that featured Prince Humperdinck as Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay.



Then, I listened to the book one summer at work. Absolutely loved it, just as much as the movie entranced me in class. I'll always picture Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Defarge. And, then, Sacha Baron Cohen as Defarge. I mean, look at them:



However, all I can think after reading this is:



and



For the record, I have no clue why I love this book so much. A lot of it is pretty dull. I mean, it's not until the Revolution starts that things get really interesting. The first book is just setting the stage, then the second book is, again, setting the stage. The third book is when things all go to hell and I start wanting to die. It's not even until the last few chapters that I start really getting nervous, even though I know what's going to happen.*

I mean, we have Carton, who is pretty unlikable and did some dastardly deeds, but has a good heart. Then, there's Darnay who is an upstanding citizen... who just happens to get caught up in some illegal things a few times. You know, it can happen to anyone. Yet, I would argue that Carton is the better man. He's the one who has a truer heart. Basically everyone knows the plot for this book, and the ending, so if you don't want to be spoiled stop here. Because I'm not marking spoilers for a book that's been out for over a hundred years.

Carton loves Lucie. And, it's sort of like the whole conundrum with two men who wanted the same woman and chose to cut her in half because they each wouldn't let go. The one who let go loves her the most because he doesn't want to force her into anything. (I think that's the story. Correct me if I'm wrong.) And, he lets her go. In fact, he does the most selfless thing for her. He decides to die so she can be happy with her husband. And, my favorite chapter is literally him just walking around Paris, knowing the choice he's made.

When [Carton] awoke and was afoot again, he lingered there yet a little longer, watching an eddy that turned and turned purposeless, until the stream absorbed it, and carried it on to the sea.--"Like me."

Or, a gem like this:

"I am not old, but my young way was never the way to age."

Or:

"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."**

And, here's where you have me starting to sob:

"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."



While this isn't a perfect book, I absolutely love it. By now, I've read a few key Dickens books, so I know his style and, by far, this is the best. He doesn't have needless chapters or random sum ups of what happens after the real end to the story. Carton does that. It's a very tightly written book. Everything's important, even the random chapters with Mr. Cruncher and him hating his wife for praying.

So, there. This is one I'd recommend to everyone, especially someone who's never read Dickens before. It's up there with my love for The Picture of Dorian Gray.

*This was likely exacerbated this read through because I chose to listen to the whole album Chronicles by Audiomachine. If you've never listened to it, it's a great way to get some epic reading music. Also, a very good way to induce me panicking for no reason.

**I'm not really a Bible quoting type of guy, but it's a beautiful quote. "I am the Resurrection and the Life."
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Reading Progress

June 23, 2013 – Shelved
June 24, 2013 –
page 95
20.47%
June 25, 2013 –
page 262
56.47%
June 26, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites-all-time
February 14, 2016 – Started Reading
February 14, 2016 –
1.0% "Yep! Oliver made me need to reread this one, so here goes! I hope I like it as much as I did the first time around."
February 15, 2016 –
8.0% "When I read this ages ago, I always pictured Madame Defarge as Helena Bonham Carter."
February 15, 2016 –
20.0% "I keep calling Darnay, Darnley. I've read too much Tudor history lately."
February 15, 2016 –
25.0% "Am I the only one who pictures Mrs. Weasley as Miss Pross? No? Thought I'd be alone on that one."
February 17, 2016 –
52.0% "Well, if that's not an extreme PTSD episode, then I don't know what is."
February 18, 2016 –
64.0% "Almost done. I'm a bit sad to see it end."
February 18, 2016 –
70.0% "It's even worse because I know what's going to happen."
February 19, 2016 –
74.0% "I'm finishing this tonight so I can read non-depressing books about the Tudors tomorrow."
February 19, 2016 –
78.0% "Sydney! You're back. There's a lot less of you in this than I remember."
February 20, 2016 –
88.0% "I'm not ready for this!! D:"
February 20, 2016 –
90.0% "Another PTSD episode for Doctor Manette. Although, I might be more apt to classify it as a dissociative state."
February 20, 2016 –
93.0% "WHY DOES THIS BOOK GET TO ME SO MUCH??"
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: classics
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
February 20, 2016 – Finished Reading
September 20, 2017 – Started Reading
September 20, 2017 –
6.0% "This is going to be a reread with no review attached."
September 22, 2017 –
24.0% "Lucie still annoys me but Carton. <3 <3 <3"
September 22, 2017 –
43.0% "Carton just gets to me, everyone. He just gets me."
September 25, 2017 –
57.0% "It's interesting to juxtapose the proclamations of Carton about not being a good man and Lorry over saying he doesn't understand emotions."
September 25, 2017 –
72.0% "Oh, here we go. The last bit."
September 29, 2017 –
96.0% "Oh man, oh man, oh man."
September 29, 2017 –
96.0% "I always forget that Ms Pross does that."
September 29, 2017 –
100.0% "I almost cried at work."
September 29, 2017 – Finished Reading
July 2, 2019 – Started Reading
July 3, 2019 –
28.0% "Trucking along through this read! Just as good as I remember it to be."
July 7, 2019 – Finished Reading
April 1, 2020 – Started Reading
April 7, 2020 –
70.0% "Tbh, I'm reading on a different copy but I'm on the last part and I might finish this today!"
April 7, 2020 –
100.0% "I cried. As usual. RTC!"
April 8, 2020 – Finished Reading
April 17, 2020 – Shelved as: quarantine-reads

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Ashley You're thinking of the judgment of King Solomon, where two women were sharing a bed with their newborn babies, and one baby died, both women claimed the live baby was theirs. King Solomon offered to cut the baby in half and give one to each woman. The true mother was willing to let the other woman have her baby if it meant the baby would live, so Solomon knew she was its real mother.

I loved this book so much both times I read, but I read it so long ago now, I'm pretty sure it would hit me much harder as an adult.


Caidyn (he/him/his) YES. That's the story. That's the one. I obviously don't know my Bible stories.

It always hits me hard, honestly. But it hits me a bit more each time I read it. Just the gravity of his choice and the actions he takes for the betterment of himself.


message 3: by Roel ✿ (new) - added it

Roel ✿ Glad you loved it :)


Audrey I also read this in 10th grade. I wonder if I'd like it better now.


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