Oprah's Book Club at Goodreads discussion

Book Discussions > A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations

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message 1: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
Oprah announced two new book club selections today! I'm so excited to be reading Dickens! He's a little hard to read so it will be nice to have support from her website as well as all of you. What do you all think of the new selections? Have you read them yet? I've read A Tale of Two Cities, but not Great Expectations.

message 2: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenr) Hey, Jessica!

I am a little excited too! I have never read Dickens, shamefully (like Oprah). My husband has read both, I believe. He liked them both. I ordered my copy yesterday, and I should have it by Friday.

Since Oprah chose classics, and I have been wanting to get caught up with all the classics, I am partaking in this book club selection. I just read Women, Food, & God. Though, I can't say the author is a total genius, but she made some good points. I have tried reading other Oprah selections and have not always agreed with Miss O.

So I'm glad she chose classics this time around. I will appreciate the support, too. I hope I do enjoy them!



message 3: by Linda (last edited Dec 08, 2010 04:50AM) (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments I also really appreciate the selection of the Dickens classics. The idea of putting both books under one cover, although attractive, is perplexing to me. I liked the high quality paper and the larger print. These qualities are unusual in paperbacks. However, I did not purchase this edition. Dickens lived in the 19th century. These books take place in the 18th and 19th centuries. If you do not have a PhD in English literature it is difficult to obtain the most knowledge and understanding from reading these two great classics without the introductory notes and historical perspective Penguin Press provides in other publications of classical literature. (Modern Library also provides explanations and some history.) For example, my copy of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre", has a chronological timeline of the life of Bronte, an introduction with historical notes, selections for further reading, and notes on each chapter, including definitions of unusual terminology common in that time. I paid $9 for the book. My copy of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" also has detailed notes, maps and a historical perspective. I paid $18 for this Penguin edition. It's about 1400 pages. I'm sorry to be so negative, but these are not "easy reads" and I'm sure serious readers will want to get the most knowledge for the amount of time and effort that will be needed to read each book.

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I agree. I'm a big stickler for good editions of books especially classics because my biggest pet peeve is abridged books. Lots of books don't make it very clear and I always wonder if by "edited" they also mean "abridged." I tend to get historical information and stuff like that from sparknotes, so if it's not in my book I can still get it. I'm going to get the ebook for these because they are free.

message 5: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenr) I would also like to read Tolstoy, as well. I don't have a PhD in English, but I am up for a challenge. I guess I will see your point soon enough, Lisa. I would have liked to bought the Dickens e-book, but I don't have an e-reader just yet. I could have downloaded it to my PC, but not for FREE. :)

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisarosenbergsachs) | 66 comments I am really surprised to read this. I guess I am showing how ancient I am when I say that when I was in high school every high school student in America had to read Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. I thought everyone read it. When did high schools stop making this required reading? Does anyone know?

message 7: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
We discussed Great Expectations in school but we watched the movie instead of reading it. We never read a Tale of Two Cities. My husband did but his was in an advanced class.

message 8: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenr) Well, I can't represent your area. But when I was in high school, I had to read books that I didn't like at all: Lord of the Flies; Brave New World; Deliverance, etc. Though, in high school, I know that is when my husband read Great Expectations. So I'm sure it depended on what teacher he had as he is younger than I. I would have rather read Dickens and To Kill a Mockingbird (my fave), as my hubby did in high school than what I was stuck reading.

message 9: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments I had to read Great Expectations, The Scarlet Letter, and Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad) in high school. Also Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, the usual classics. And - Edith Hamilton's books on Greek and Roman Mythology. All of this went in one side of my brain and out the other. I was too young to absorb very much of these required readings. (I was much more interested in getting out of high school asap and off to college.) I recall my son and daughter having to read Lord of the Flies and they both hated reading it. They also had to read Les Mis - Both had abridged editions, Cliff Notes, and the movie. I can't imagine reading Conrad again, but I had already decided to re-read Great Expectations this winter in Chicago as Dickens just seems like "winter reading". I re-read War and Peace about about every 5 years. Oprah admitted she had never read Dickens before so I wonder how she'll do with that special edition of both books - without the benefit of the notes, timeline, and analysis that some of us will have reading regular Penguin or Modern Library editions!

message 10: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenr) I don't know how much I would have absorbed either on such classics as a teen, but I'm sure there could have been better choices over Lord of the Flies or Brave New World. I remember having to watch the movie of LotF, too. I watched the movie on Tolstoy played by Christopher Plummer (love him) earlier this year, and found Tolstoy very interesting. I'm sure Oprah will have someone research the additional information for her. And I guess I will be doing my own research since that is the edition I ordered. :(

message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
She has some extra info on her website like character guides and a bio on Dickens. You can print bookmarks with the character descriptions on them, which I did and they are awesome! They even match her edition of the book.

message 12: by Kristen (new)

Kristen (kristenr) Yes, I did download and print the bookmark on Monday. I'm all ready! :) I will probably check back to the site for further info if I run into any confusion. Thanks!

message 13: by Linda (new)

Linda (llsbooks) | 13 comments Thank you for the info about what is on Oprah's website. I will print out the guides tomorrow. I would not have thought to look otherwise. I wonder who will be the guest on the day the books are discussed. Perhaps a Professor. I read a few chapters tonight. With the bad weather forecast here for the week-end I will be curling up in my favorite chair and think I will get through most of A Tale of Two Cities this week-end. I was "between books".

message 14: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I loved a Tale of Two Cities! I'm interested to hear what you think.

Just a reminder to everyone, put the word SPOILER at the top of any comments that discuss the plot of these books for those who aren't finished yet. Thanks for all of your comments!

message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Manus (kdemanus) | 1 comments I'm very excited! I recently decided to teach A Tale of Two Cities to my 12th graders next sememster so this works out great! I can't wait to see how I can incorporate what Oprah talks about with what I'm doing in the classroom.

message 16: by Dree (new)

Dree Brave New World was one of my favorite books from a high-school English class. I think it was the same year we read A Tale of Two Cities--another favorite.

I admit I was in high school over 20 years ago now (ack!), but some of my friends' kids are now at the same school reading much of the same stuff! Of Mice and Men, Julius Caesar, Babbitt, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, The Big Sky, The Moonstone, The Deerslayer, Cannery Row, Huckleberry Finn, The Crucible, Scarlet Letter, McTeague, East of Eden, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Heart of Darkness. And, one of the worst books I have ever finished--Dune!

My husband also went to a CA public high school--they read almost nothing. Their English classes were pure writing/rhetoric. Not lit analysis.

I may re-read A Tale of Two Cities again. It's so good, and a pretty easy read. I don't really recall Great Expectations. I tend to enjoy the shorter Dickens novels more than the really long ones.

message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
I finished Great Expectations a few weeks ago, but I forgot to post about it. Did anyone else finish?


I really liked Great Expectations and it was easier to read than I thought it would be. Certainly easier than a Tale of Two Cities. I felt like it wouldn't take much to adapt the story to the modern day. I could totally see Pip as a lower class boy wanting to be a celebrity and getting his wish. Ambition and it's consequences is so universal that I dont think this story will ever
get outdated.

What did you think of him ending up with Estella? ( I hope that's her name). I read in spark notes that Dickens had a different ending where he doesn't end up with her but the publishers wanted a happy ending. If Pip had really changed his love for Estella would have been impossible. I liked the happy ending but it didn't fell true to the story. Overall I loved it.

message 18: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (Books: A true story) (booksatruestory) | 218 comments Mod
This was from Oprah's website:

It's the best of times! On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, at 5 p.m. EST, you can watch an Oprah's Book Club webcast hosted by Oprah with Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and Charles Dickens expert Jane Smiley to discuss A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations—right here!

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