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Nicholas Nickleby
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1001 book reviews > The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens

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Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 437 comments If you can get past the long, drawn-out conversations and digressions, which are in keeping with the style of novels during Dickens's era, this is a pretty decent novel. It tells the life story of Nicholas Nickleby, from his childhood to his successful marriage anyway. Nicholas is the son of the unsuccessful country gentleman who has a rich aristocrat named Ralph Nickleby. Ralph is a caricature of evil, much like Scrooge, only without the possibility of redemption. He delights in squeezing money out of the poor, as well as out of everyone else. And, he seems to enjoy causing suffering, so long as he can profit by it. So, when his brother dies and leaves behind a widow and two teenage children, with no money, he enjoys setting these poor country relations up in circumstances which will make Ralph look like he is 'doing his best' for them, while in reality he is just using them to enrich himself, while keeping them miserably poor and dependent.
Nicholas is sent to Yorkshire to be an assistant at a Yorkshire school, essentially a scam in which unwanted boys are shunted off to 'school' for a fee of 20 pounds a year per boy, and they are kept just barely alive and beaten into submission at every chance, with very little attempt at actually teaching them anything. Nicholas rebels at being used as an enforcer to this system, and escapes with one of the boys, fleeing to London and thus beginning the next chapter of his young life. He joins a travelling theater group, and begins to grow up and develop resources of his own, and eventually finds the means to overcome his evil uncle and secure a happy future for himself and his sister.
I found parts of this book rather tedious, but the story was easy to follow, and the characters were memorable, if not quite well-rounded enough to be realistic. And, with the central story being that of two young adults finding their way in the world and securing spouses, I was not entirely sympathetic with them, or with any of the other characters really. But, if I was reading this novel when it was first published, so that I did not have all the more modern novels to compare it with, I'd have probably enjoyed this book a lot more. The female characters get to have their own opinions and goals, the bad guys lose, and the good guys get married and live happily ever after. And the fictional Yorkshire school is dissolved, as a morally repugnant thing, even if in real life such scams lasted a long time, and probably still pop up where the law and the economy permit them.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Kristel (kristelh) | 3873 comments Mod
Read 2015,
Dickens third novel gives us a smorgasbord of delightfully crafted characters. The good the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Dickens tells the story of a widow and her two children who seek help from her deceased husband's brother and are treated meanly and stingily by him. A social commentary told through the characters in this book and the main character, Nicholas Nickleby is a young man who comes to age as he takes care of his mother and sister and is kind to others he encounters on the way. This is Dickens third novel and a episodic and humorous book and also a first for romance for Dickens.

Diane | 1990 comments Rating: 4 stars

My final 1001 book of Dickens. That's a pretty big feat considering how many there are on the list. This one is about a young man from a comfortable background who must support his family after his father loses their fortune and dies unexpectedly. He appeals to his wealthy uncle for assistance and is directed to obtain a low-paying job in a school. Dickens does such a great job with class inequality and good vs. evil. Although this story is somewhat predictable, it is nevertheless another solid work by this author.

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