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A Tale of Two Cities
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Mount TBR Buddy-Reads > A Tale of Two Cities - Book the First - chapters 1 - 6 *SPOILERS allowed*

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Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments This thread is for the first section of A Tale of Two Cities scheduled to start the weekend of June 1st. Book the First - Recalled to Life chapter 1 - 6. Please keep you posts within the contents of this section and please be considerate and aware of where other readers are within the section. Spoilers are allowed, again using the wonderful discretion and awareness of where people are.

Use Spoiler tags <spoiler> </spoiler> or something like ******Spoilers included for those who have not read past chapter ******

Please state which chapter you are in or have just finished.


message 2: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Just started the first chapter... the first page... and I already have a million questions about history things. I'm gonna be bugging everyone, I know! Forgive me in advance ;-)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I hope you'll look up the answers, too. :)


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments I get nervous looking up the answers on Wiki and such because sometimes they spoil things for me. I've learned of someones death in a certain battle and spent the entire time reading waiting for that event, so I check with caution, ha-ha.

What questions do you have, Hayes? About the French Revolution or Dickens? Ask away, I'm sure you will get some answers. I'm still trying to finish up a read, have about 50 pages, for my niece's bookclub and then will start Two Cities.

Oh and don't worry about questions, I ask a lot of them too, right Jeannette?!


message 5: by Catie (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments I bet I can guess. There's a load of references, trying I think, to help Dickens' contemporary audience adjust to the historical setting - that are just whish! over the head of anyone but an expert. I suspect we're not going to solve those without the aid of someone with a properly footnoted students' edition. Has anyone got one? Maybe I'm wrong though and wikipedia can handle that sort of thing these days... I just soldiered past all that but it would be nice to know the answers. I've now read chapter four.


message 6: by Hayes (last edited May 31, 2012 02:29PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) That's it, Catie... I know it's setting the stage for the political/social unrest, but I was just wondering what the specifics were. Also the "Square jawed" king reference was interesting. I don't have my book in front of me, so I can't remember the quote exactly.

I am also curious as to the date the story takes place: 1775, the year before the American Revolution. I'm assuming that's a direct reference to the influence that the American Revolution had on the French version.


message 7: by Catie (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments I think more than setting the stage for the unrest, he's also saying, you know that really old famous person - he/she was young then, etc. I don't think historical fiction was a very common thing when Dickens was writing. I know Walter Scott, and Dumas was, I think contemporary, but who else?
Re the influence of the Amer. Revolution on the French yes definitely, I agree. I noticed the jaws of the kings and the faces of the queens too. We're talking George III and Queen Charlotte (Mecklenburg-Strelitz) in the UK and Louis XVI (I think) and Marie Antoinette in France. I suppose MA had more of a reputation as a looker but googling images - I'd be pushed to make that choice.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I wonder sometimes if the author is trying to set the stage, or obscure the facts. Did both countries have square-jawed kings at the time? And, yet, he does set the story firmly in 1775.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments I didn't realize it started in 1775 but it makes sense for the American Revolution connection and to build up the back story relationships. The squared jaw thing I've heard before as a reference to strength and I wouldn't call King Louis XVI strong in personality or in looks, matter of fact weak chinned is more often how he is referred, as the 1774 illustration below shows. Also, didn't Dickens and his contemporaries romanticize royals, put them in a good light?



Now I am excited to see how the Kindle x-ray feature will affect this read.


message 10: by Catie (last edited May 31, 2012 03:41PM) (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments The quote is There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France.
Google their images and make up your own mind. Neither Louis nor George was an oil painting...


message 11: by Catie (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments I wonder if "large jaw" might mean more that they ate too many pies?


message 12: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited May 31, 2012 05:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . .

I am always intrigued by the beginning of this books which sets up the concept of two. Love and family, hope and despair, hate and the opression of the masses, heaven and hell, light and darkness, the peasants and the royals, and of course London and Paris. Dickens excels in the physical always describing facial traits as well as the internal workings of his characters. There are characters presented in groups of two as well and as we meet them in the story watch how Dickens compares and contrasts the characters.

In Chapter 1 and 2, there is the presentation of crime more ,prevalent in France yet also an issue in England. The American colonies are undergoing unrest and George III is worried and distressed. The monarchy is having its issues controlling its people and the people can sense and want change. (sound familiar?) I love the atmospheric tension, the fog, the mist, the voice coming out to the mist, the fear of robbery etc. Dickens is transporting us to that road in that carriage and trying to instil fear in us don't you think?


message 13: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited May 31, 2012 05:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter III another well known quote
"A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imagin-ings, a secret to the heart nearest it! Something of the awfulness, even of Death itself, is referable to this."

Dickens is trying to say that all men are difficult to understand, life has its many mysteries and as the chapter continues we wonder about the nightmare that Lorry is having.....that of a man buried for eighteen years. A ghost appears to him and again we have repition if phrases like we had in the introduction of Chapter 1.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Marialyce, I call that opening line perfection in its simplicity and in it use of comparisons of opposites. Now I can look at the concept of two that you mention as well.


message 15: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited May 31, 2012 06:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Marialyce, I call that opening line perfection in its simplicity and in it use of comparisons of opposites. Now I can look at the concept of two that you mention as well."

Watch for the repetition of phrases too throughout the text. Don't know if you are aware but Dickens wrote this as a serial to his magazine. I believe it appeared in monthly installments. He needed to create tension to make the people come back for more and he does so in the darkness and fear of these chapters. He was a very astute businessman and knew how to make the readers clamor for more. Also the reason for why the chapters are pretty short.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments I knew this and many others of his were serialized, and had those hooks to bring people back. I thought it was more frequently than monthly but don't know for sure. Can you imagine having to wait that long to learn the outcome?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I think people were in a frenzy both in England and in America. He had to make a lot of money because everyone of his family including his parents sponged off of him.


message 18: by Hayes (last edited May 31, 2012 09:58PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) From chapter one: Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, ... Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, ...

Any clues who these two are/were?


Jemidar | 358 comments Catie wrote: "The quote is There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France.
Goo..."


Could be referencing the "Hapsburg jaw" and how inbred they all were.


message 20: by Hayes (last edited May 31, 2012 10:45PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Were George and Louis cousins by any chance? Will go look that up... I know nothing about European History.

ETA: Marie Antoinette was a Hapsburg, so perhaps she was related to the Hanovers.


Jemidar | 358 comments Can't remember exactly what their relationship was but there is bound to be one since they all tend to be related!


message 22: by Catie (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments Hayes wrote: "From chapter one: Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, ... Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, ...

Any clues who these two..."


I found some (very full and interesting ) study notes here
http://dickens.stanford.edu/tale/issu...
looks like she was some sort of prophetess and the ghost had been a well known fraud...


message 23: by Hayes (last edited May 31, 2012 11:21PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) ahhh! Thank you. And thanks for the study notes.

ETA: Oh, Catie! That site is brilliant! I will mark that as a favorite and have it open as I'm reading along. I can't see the pictures, unfortunately.

ETA2: I got it now...

http://dickens.stanford.edu/dickens/a...


message 24: by Catie (new) - added it

Catie (gollywollypogs) | 53 comments No I can't see them either but the info is great!


message 25: by Hayes (last edited May 31, 2012 11:29PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Try the other page I found (I went back into the site and reloaded the pages from the directory). The infomation is in the "Glossary".


message 26: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 01, 2012 03:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter IV How strange it must have been to find a father you thought to be dead alive and living under a different name! I wonder what Dr Mamette did that forced him to disappear/die? We also get to meet his daughter Lucie. Don't you love how Dickens has set up this gothic tale? We have the beginnings of a first doubling of ideas, that being of resurrection and death. Dr Mamette believed to have been dead has arisen alive.


message 27: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 01, 2012 03:26AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Hayes wrote: "From chapter one: Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, ... Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, ...

Any clues who these two..."


Mrs Southcott was a woman who thought herself to the a prophetess and info on the Cock Lane ghost can be found here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock_Lan...


message 28: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Thanks, Marialyce. Didn't think to look there.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) You are welcome.....turned out to be a scam, but what fun! Dickens wrote the novel in 1859 using topics of his day even though he was writing about the French Revolution which happened in 1789-1799.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Catie wrote: "Hayes wrote: "From chapter one: Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, ... Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, ...

Any clues..."


Catie, thanks for the answer and study notes link, that should come in handy.

Hayes, thanks for the question, I was going to ask the same thing.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Marialyce wrote: "You are welcome.....turned out to be a scam, but what fun! Dickens wrote the novel in 1859 using topics of his day even though he was writing about the French Revolution which happened in 1789-1799."

Good point! That could be why some of the confusion for some of us too. I was thinking revolution times not Dicken's times.

I'm in chapter 3, who is speaking when the chapter opens? It is in the first person and then switches back to third person (hope that doesn't happen too often) and is talking of Jerry, the horseman who delivered the note to Jarvis Lorry, so I'm assuming it was Jerry. But some strange allusions and comparisons there, that one can never truly know another person and the frozen over river, and one heck of a loooonnngggg sentence, took up a page and half in my Kindle.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Marialyce wrote: "Mrs Southcott was a woman who thought herself to the a prophetess and info on the Cock Lane ghost can be found here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock_Lan... "


Wow, that Cock Lane ghost was a major story! I can't believe it lead to an investigation and two year imprisonment.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "You are welcome.....turned out to be a scam, but what fun! Dickens wrote the novel in 1859 using topics of his day even though he was writing about the French Revolution which hap..."

The narrator in this book is anonymous. Some think it was Dickens himself.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Now I need to go back and reread that then, since I was taking it from a characters perspective. The shifting point of view is bothering, normally that stuff doesn't. Just finished chapter three and it shifted from Jerry on his way back to the bank to Jarvis in the carriage having his dream of the person buried 18 years. I wish there were clearer delineation between these changes.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter V The vision of people lapping up the red wine from the filthy ground of St Antoine is quite something. Dickens shows how awful things are in this chapter for the peasants. I Could just imagine the smell and the deplorable conditions. We do meet the Defarges as well as get the first look at Dr Manette. He went from a distinguished doctor to a poor shoemaker living in squalor and desperation. Do you think the man writing the word blood on the wall with the red wine was a great foreshadowing of the events to come?


message 36: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Chapter 3:

Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I'm in chapter 3, who is speaking when the chapter opens? "

That was pretty weird... I hope we will understand the 18 years bit... will keep reading. I read the chapter before my coffee kicked in, so I may have to go back and read it again.




Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I think perhaps it is that Dr Manette has been imprisoned for that long, but am guessing.


message 38: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Chapter 4: Now that I have read the following chapter I agree.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments I'm in the middle of chapter 5, getting ready to meet the Defarges. But I agree Dickens really shows the horrible conditions, and I thought these two passages set things up quite well - "Hunger rattled its dry bones among the roasting chestnuts in the turned cylinder" and "But, the time was not come yet; and every wind that blew over France shook the rags of the scarecrows in vain, for the birds, fine of song and feather, took no warning." In this case the scarecrows are the peasants and the birds royalty, I assume.

Did it drive anyone else crazy the way Jarvis Lorry explained things to Miss Manette? I had to laugh but could also feel her frustration when she said "I can bear anything but the uncertainty you leave me in at this moment." He would drive me nuts, just tell me already, but it was a great way for Dickens to build the suspense.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Hayes wrote: "Chapter 3:

Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I'm in chapter 3, who is speaking when the chapter opens? "

That was pretty weird... I hope we will understand the 18 years bit... will keep read..."


The 18 years things makes a lot more sense now. I'm hoping that jump to first person doesn't happen often, it's confusing and how do we know what time period is being discussed, French Revolution or Victorian or is it a comparison of both?


Laura | 102 comments Hayes wrote: "Try the other page I found (I went back into the site and reloaded the pages from the directory). The infomation is in the "Glossary"."

thanks Hayes, I couldn't see the figures in the previous link.


Laura | 102 comments Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Hayes wrote: "Chapter 3:

Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "I'm in chapter 3, who is speaking when the chapter opens? "

That was pretty weird... I hope we will understand the 18 years bit... ..."


It's not very clear but it seems to be a comparison of both periods.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

I finally finished The Talisman Ring and am ready to catch up to all of you slowpokes. ;)


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments I can't speak for others but I haven't even made it to 10% yet so you should have no problem catching up. And it looks like super-fast Laura has already caught up!


Geevee Just finished A Night to Remember The Classic Bestselling Account of the Sinking of the Titanic by Walter Lord by Walter Lord and will be starting TOTC tomorrow.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I agree, it is a quick read unlike Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life which I just finished and invested a month of reading time into.

I did finish Chapter VI and found the atmospheric quality amazing. I have developed a great respect for Mr Dickens.


message 47: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Great Expectations remains my all time favorite, but this is pretty amazing.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Geevee, glad to see you here and ready to start! You being the only fella on this buddy read, I know I'm looking forward to your comments.

Marialyce, I think your leading the pack right now. I haven't got any reading done so far today, since we are busy getting things together to go out of town tomorrow for my eldest niece's 11th birthday.


Laura | 102 comments I've already started book II.


Geevee Well I'm up to page 30 and I liked the description of the stage coach and the tensions on the journey but the digging and 18 years has left me foxed; no doubt all will come clearer.


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