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Our Mutual Friend
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2014 ♦Archives Buddy Read ♦ > Mary & Barbara - Our Mutual Friend

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message 1: by Denise, Manufacturing Director (new) - rated it 3 stars

Denise (destiny_chan) | 5350 comments Mod
Mary & Barbara - Our Mutual Friend

Barbara Vazquez Hi Mary!
Do you want to wait until December or should we start reading right away?

Barbara Vazquez Ok, I downloaded the book from Project Gutenberg and read the first chapter last night.

I don't want us to spoil each other, should we wait for the other to finish a chapter before we make any comments?

Barbara Vazquez Hey Mary, have you started reading? I'm only on chapter 3, but we could start our discussion if you are ready.

I've always liked Dickens' descriptions. He is so efficient with language! In a few sentences he tells us, without saying so explicitly, that the man on the boat is looking for corpses in the river. That his daughter dreads the activity, but loves him. And even the ethical code of the man: stealing from the living is wrong, whereas stealing from the dead is not even stealing.

Mary | 318 comments I'm really liking this story. It takes a bit to get into the style of writing, but you're right - he's so descriptive. I'm up to Chapter 7. I'm starting to see how all of the characters are intertwining now. It's quite fun!

Mary | 318 comments I'm up to Chapter 7. Where are you Barbara? Do you know who Our Mutual Friend is? What do you think his plan is? Don't want to post spoilers so I won't say too much.

Barbara Vazquez I'm on Chapter 4, moving a little slow for now but I'll try to speed up this week.
I just found out the story of the brother and sister, how she is helping him to go to school and keeping it a secret from their father.
I read a while ago that Dickens was forced to leave school for a while when he was 9 or 10 to work at a factory, and that his biggest fear was that he would never be able to get an education. That passage between brother and sister reminded me of that.

Barbara Vazquez Just starting Chapter 7 and still don'w know who our mutual friend is, but I do know that I love Lizzie Hexam.
And I love Bella Wilfer too! She's so blunt and selfish, she loves money and is not ashamed to say it. And she is right! It is unfair that she has to be in mourning for a man she never met. And because of what looks like a joke from old Mr. Harmon, the one who thought she was "a promising girl" when he saw her throwing a tantrum.

I have my theories on how this whole thing is going to develop. But it's too soon, I'm sure they'll change many times as I read along.

Barbara Vazquez Finally, I know who our mutual friend is. I'm up to Chapter 10 and loving every word.

Barbara Vazquez Hey Mary, are you still reading?
I have serious doubts about the identity of the dead man, the heir that's causing so much trouble.

There are so many wonderful characters in this book, I can't make up my mind on which one is my favorite. As soon as I pick one, another one is introduced that's even more charming.

message 11: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments I'm up to part 2, Chapter 6. I'm finding that a lot of the characters fall into "good guys" and "bad guys"! I'm liking the little dressmaker (Jenny Wren) and Lizzie Hexam. I'm disliking both barristers, but mostly Mr. Wrayburn. What is he up to?! I'm noticing that the poorer people have to work like the devil to keep up, and the rich people, who have fallen into their wealth (mostly) disabuse it. I love this story!

message 12: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments What do you think of the Lammles also? I won't say much in case you're not up to them yet, but they are an interesting pair of schemers.

Barbara Vazquez I'm a bit behind you, part 2 Chapter 2. I also dislike the barristers, they are so indolent, and obviously up to no good. The only rich people I like so far are the Boffins.
But I don't think goodness or badness comes always related to money. The Lammles are poor and bad, and so is the "literate man" with the peg leg.
I think it is greed what makes the difference, being content with what you have, or at least not wanting what others have for yourself.

Who do you think Mr. Rokesmith really is? Is he really the lost heir, who's letting everybody think he is dead? I hope he marries Lizzie, and not silly Bella, no matter how amusing she is. But then, Dickens has no mercy, he might kill our favorite characters without warning.

message 14: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments I do still think Rokesmith is the lost heir. I'm wondering if he came back secretly to see who it was he was engaged to, and if he could go through with it. I think it's a good thing he's attached himself to the Boffins as they were hopeless at managing their own funds.

It's interesting that as far into the story as I am we are still getting new characters, and they intertwine themselves with the ones we've met already. Makes it trickier to guess what's going to happen.

Barbara Vazquez I was just reading the description of young Fledgeby (another wonderful character to detest), when I got to the part when it is said than he only cares about L.S.D. and I had to Google it. "Librae, solidi et denarii". Nice way to say he is a miser.

I'm on a train on my way to my parents house to spend the holydays, so I think I'll read faster now.

Barbara Vazquez I'm not getting what's going on with the Mounds. When I first read about them, I looked it up on a dictionary and it said they might be ancient tombs or some dusty hills. So far, so good. But how did the late Mr. Harmon became rich excavating them? To extract what? What are the literary man and the bone man expecting to find there?

Barbara Vazquez I'm on chapter 14 of the second part. Many things have been revealed on the previous chapters and I don't want to spoil them. How far are you?

message 18: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments I'm only up to chapter 11. I got no reading done during Christmas week! I'll do some catching up before the New Years break is over. I'm noticing a change in Bella in how she is paying more attention to someone other than herself and wondering if it's an aberration or an actual change. I really despise Wegg and how he acted when little john Harmon died. As for the mounds, I thought they were trash mounds, and they would dig through them, looking for recyclable stuff, or things accidentally thrown out. I could be wrong. :)

I'll do some reading tonight and try and catch up!

Barbara Vazquez As I read along, I like Bella more and more. She's funny when she's mean and selfish, but you are right, I think the Boffins are a good influence for her.

Isn't it terrible the fear poor Betty felt for the poorhouse? It must have been a horrid place.

message 20: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments Where are you now? I've got about 1/3 of the book left. It's sad about Betty but she achieved her goal of not ending up in the workhouse. Sad that people were actually afraid so something that was supposed to be good for them.

I'm up to the part when Jenny's drunken father offers to find the address for Rayburn. I dislike wrayburn so much! He could be a much better person if he tried. And I'm sad to see the change in the Dustman. What is going to happen with him?

And I hope Wegg gets his comeuppance!

Barbara Vazquez I'm a bit closer to the end than you, already on part 4. I had a 3-hour-long train trip yesterday and read a lot.
I dislike Wrayburn too, he is so selfish and not a gentleman at all. The way he keeps pursuing Lizzie, when he knows perfectly well that he would never marry her!
But I like how Bella improves her character without losing her temper.

As for the Dustman, I'm really sorry for him, but more so for his wife.

This is, of all the novels by Dickens I've read so far, the one more openly concerned about money, the hardships of not having enough and the dangers of having too much.

message 22: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments Yes, I've noticed that he does take a little time to scold/lecture about the rules and circumstances facing the poorer classes. I wonder if this made him less popular with the upper class who read his stories at the time.

Barbara Vazquez I'm done! Let me know when you finish and we'll comment it.

message 24: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments I think I'm about 150 pages to the end. I'm very proud of Bella, who has quit the Boffins and gone home, and also pledged herself to John Rokesmith. I'm up to where the school master has followed Wrayburn up the river to see Lizzie. My idea is that the schoolmaster will try to do a harm to Wrayburn and try and pin it on Riderhood. I'm wondering if Riderhood will figure it out before it's too late.

I'm also wondering how Fledgeby managed to get all of those accounts of people who owed money? Did he buy them up, one by one? It didn't seem that he had the financial backing to be able to do that, but I don't know how the finance systems worked back then.

Thanks for being patient!

Barbara Vazquez I think Fledgeby bought those debts, probably below their price, if the original owner thought it improbable that they would ever be paid. But I think that, more than the money, he liked the idea of squeezing those people, of having them in his power and making them suffer.

I liked Jenny Wren more and more as I read on, she's so sharp! But her "bad boy" makes her suffer so much. It is a terrible thing, a parent who won't look after his child.

I've seen on the Internet that there is a movie based on this novel. I am going to download it and watch it this weekend. If you finish, and want to join me we can discuss it too.

message 26: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments I'll look it up. Who is in it, so I know we are watching the same one. :)

Barbara Vazquez There's a BBC mini-series from 1998, with Paul McGann and Keeley Hawes that looks good.

message 28: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments What an awesome ending! I'm very happy we decided to read this. Makes me want to try a few of his others that I haven't gotten to. Thanks for being my reading partner!

Barbara Vazquez I didn't see it coming. I expected John Harmon to get his inheritance back somehow, but I never suspected the Boffins to be on the know!
As for "T'otherest Governor" (favorite expression ever), I liked that he was not as clever as he thought.

The ending was satisfaying in every way, although I would have liked to know more about what happened to Charley Hexam, if he learnt to think of someone other than himself.

I really liked the book, although it has not become my favorite Dickens, that place still belongs to Bleak House.

message 30: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary | 318 comments When I was looking at my dickens collection I thought I might try Bleak house next, in a month or so. Glad to hear you like it.

I was happy to see that the doll's dressmaker might have someone for herself in the future. What a rough life she had already.

I also would not have thought that the Boffins could have carried out the ruse as successfully as they did.

Let me know how you like the TV show.

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