Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 discussion

A Tale of Two Cities
This topic is about A Tale of Two Cities
21 views
Mount TBR Buddy-Reads > Book the Second - chapters 1 - 24 *SPOILERS allowed*

Comments Showing 1-50 of 155 (155 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1 3 4

message 1: by Dawn (& Ron) (last edited May 30, 2012 08:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments This thread is for the second section of A Tale of Two Cities scheduled to start the weekend of June 1st. Book the Second - the Golden Thread chapters 1 - 24. 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.


Laura | 102 comments This book starts 5 years after the first one and the narrative are a little be slower compared with the previous one.


message 3: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 03, 2012 03:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter 1 I am sure we would all like to do our banking at Tellson's! Everything is so dark in this novel isn't it? I had to laugh at Cruncher and how he thought his poor wife prayed against him. I wonder as does his son where the rust on his fingers does come from.

Chapter 2 They certainly did a lot of killing the condemned in those days. Can you imagine being or watching someone being drawn and quartered? (I could never watch the end of Braveheart, it sends shivers down my spine even thinking about it now) Poor Charles Darnay accused of treason and why are the Manettes witnesses for the prosecution?

Chapter 3 I am very glad Darnay was acquitted. We now see the connection between Darnay and the Manettes. The defense attorney did a fine job of getting the acquittal thankfully.

Chapter IV who is this fellow Carton? He seems to be Dickens dark character as we see him becoming more addicted to alcohol.

Dickens is known for his humor in writing and in this section there was a few humorous occasions, like the one describing the King. “Charles Darnay had yesterday pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment denouncing him (with infinite jingle and jangle) for that he was a false traitor to our serene, illustrious, excellent, and so forth, prince. . . .” and then it is repeated and repeated.....


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I googled to rust on the fingers. If you are interested here is why but it does contain a spoiler. (view spoiler)


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter V and VI One has to wonder why Carton is the way he is. The jackal clearly does not like what he has become and seems to long to better himself. He also seems jealous of Darnay. What is with that letter that was dug up in the Tower? There must be something important about it but then again it was burned so there is really only ashes left. The storm I think signifies the coming French Revolution and the hundreds of feet that Lucie and Darnay hear might represent the people marching forward for freedom.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Marialyce wrote: "I googled to rust on the fingers. If you are interested here is why but it does contain a spoiler."

I wondered what that meant especially when they talk of him chewing at it in chapter III.

Speaking of humor and Tellson, I thought this was funny, "When they took a young man into Tellson's London house, they hid him somewhere till he was old. They kept him in a dark place, like a cheese, until he had the full Tellson flavour and blue-mould upon him. Then only was he permitted to be seen"

I'm currently at the beginning of chapter 4 of book 2. What a twist at the trial! And the way Dickens describes the trial is quite different, doing the questioning of unknown characters in narrative form with no quotations or separation of speakers. He then goes to dialogue for known characters, switches point of view often, even going to first person briefly, talking of my learned friend, making me wonder can this anonymous narrator really be Dickens. I thought the frequent use of George Washington intriguing too.


message 7: by Hayes (last edited Jun 05, 2012 12:40AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Dawn, I was just coming to post that quote about Tellson's! I thought it was so funny, and so typical of Dickens!

I've just started book 2.


message 8: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 05, 2012 04:42AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter VII How utterly awful the way with absolutely no remorse that child was killed! The absolute haughtiness and lack of compassion of Monseignor is awful. Apparently many raced their carriages through town and since they considered the people rats did not care who they struck down. It was a game to them. You can just feel that their day in hell will be coming soon.

Never would have thought that Charles Darnay was the Marquis nephew. What a horrible creature the Marquis is! He seems to think the poor deserve their lot and should be happy to be in that station of life. Believing himself and by extension Charles to be of royal blood, he feels entitled to everything.

Chapter IX The Marquis has been murdered. No loss there I think. This is the first of many who will die because they were hardened to the plights of their fellow man.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Hayes wrote: "Dawn, I was just coming to post that quote about Tellson's! I thought it was so funny, and so typical of Dickens!

I've just started book 2."


It was done so visually, you could just see this young man hid away and not seeing the light of day until he fit the mold of being an old man. And the cheese reference, I couldn't help but think of smelly cheese, not sure if that was meant or not.

I'm just starting chapter VII Monseigneur. The continuous reference of footsteps was interesting and of there foreboding. "I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by-and-bye into our lives.", followed shortly with "When I have yielded myself to it, I have been alone, and then I have imagined them the footsteps of the people who are to come into my life, and my father's." I like Miss Pross and her frequent "fit of the jerks" when men come to visit her Lucie, funny. Was jerks slang for idiot back then too, giving these fits two meanings?


message 10: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Laura wrote: "This book starts 5 years after the first one and the narrative are a little be slower compared with the previous one."

Just finished chapter 2, and we meet our friends again. Interesting about the trial, which is just about to start. Copious notes here:

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


message 11: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 06, 2012 02:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapters 10-13 we now see three people vying for Lucie's love. Of course Stryver is a pompous idiot who seems to handle his feelings like he were prosecuting a case in court. Charles declares his love for Lucie to Dr Manette in very loving terms, but it is Carton who touches onto the concept of love the best. One can't help but feel sorrow for Sydney as he pledges his undying affection so eloquently. He knows he is unworthy and we know he is a drunk, but yet he is to me the most appealing of the suitors. He pledges his life to assure Lucie of hers and her happiness. Will this pledge come to fruition I wonder?


message 12: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 06, 2012 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter XIV well, we know what Cruncher does in his "free" time to make a bit of money! .....and his son wants to follow in his father's footsteps!

Chapters XV-XVII Madam Defarge is busily knitting her shrouds and keeping the list of the comig dead "alive." You can see how manical she is and bent on revenge of all, even if her husband does not feel the same especially in Darnay's case with his upcoming link to Manette becoming Manette's son in law. Dark days are coming and the spy system of Jacques is very busy.


Laura | 102 comments Becoming even better now.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Just starting chapter IX The Gorgon's Head, just finished with the lovely Monseigneur (said with dripping sarcasm) and again Dickens has a very descriptive way of forecasting upcoming events with present events. "Expressive sips of what made them poor, were not wanting; the tax for the state, the tax for the church, the tax for the lord, tax local and tax general, were to be paid here and to be paid there, according to solemn inscription in the little village, until the wonder was, that there was any village left unswallowed."


message 15: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 07, 2012 01:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Just starting chapter IX The Gorgon's Head, just finished with the lovely Monseigneur (said with dripping sarcasm) and again Dickens has a very descriptive way of forecasting upcoming events with p..."

The use of the gorgon( usually three sisters who are entwined with snakes around their heads) was interesting in that this mythical creature could turn men to stone. There was a lot of references to stone including the Marquis heart of stone plus the physical and mental place he lived in in the chapter plus the Marquis in his death is tuned to stone (rigid/morbidity).

Dickens is well know for the names of his characters being whimsical and unique. Names like Sloppy, Sweedlepipe, Pickwick, Woopsie, Scrooge to mention a few were made up names that portrayed what the character was. I imagine he had wonderful fun coming up with the names.However, in this novel, his name are quite straightforward and there is very little humor for which he was well known in his other books.


message 16: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 07, 2012 02:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Chapter XVIII Here is a bit of that Dickens humor I spoke of...
“You think there never might have been a Mrs. Lorry?” asked the gentleman of that name.
“Pooh!” rejoined Miss Pross; “you were a bachelor in your cradle.”
“Well!” observed Mr. Lorry, beamingly adjusting his little wig, “that seems probable, too.”
“And you were cut out for a bachelor,” pursued Miss Pross, “before you were put in your cradle."

Unfortunately, Dr Manette seems to deteriorate mentally as Lucie and Charles are away on their honeymoon. He has had a shock that of learning Charles' heritage.

Chapter XIX I do like what a good friend Mr Lorry is to Dr Manette and am glad that the doctor seems to have recovered his mental state and is again normal.

Chapter XX So very sorry for Carton...He is a pitiable character and am glad Lucie sees the good in him.

Chapter XXI Lucie hears the footsteps and Dickens uses that as a reference to the people marching and storming th Bastille. We see The Defarges take leadership and the first of the bloody killings and mutilations take place. This chapter, I think, conveys best what our imaginations and history have said about this revolution.

We also see pretty well the concept of doubles again with the contrast between Lucie who is loving and kind to Madame Lefarge who is blood thirsty and manical. The violence has started and while Dickens sympathizes with the revolutionaries, he also shows that blood letting begets more blood letting and we lose humanness and compassion so that the oppressor becomes the oppressed. The revolutionaries will become as bad as the people/nobility who held them underfoot and for that Dickens shows his scorn and abhorrence.


message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) I've only reached the trial, but I love reading Dickens' observations on the English legal system of the period. Of course, he had good reason to be bitter about the impact on the legal system, particularly on poor people. The only novel by Dickens that I have read and really loved is Bleak House, which is a wholesale attack on the legal system (or at least on the Court of Chancery). I've not been particularly enamoured by the other novels which I've read (Great Expectations and Oliver Twist). I'm hoping that A Tale of Two Cities leaves me with a greater appreciation of Dickens' work.


message 18: by Hayes (last edited Jun 07, 2012 01:46AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Great reading of GE on Librivox, if you want to give it another shot, Kim. I must read Bleak House one of these days.


Sylvia (sylviahartstra) I have just start with the second part. I love the way Dickens tells us about Tellson's and the character of Cruncher.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I am just at the same place, Sylvia. I feel sorry for Mrs. Cruncher, with all her frustrated flopping and praying. Even Cruncher, Jr. is against her.


Geevee Kim wrote: "The only novel by Dickens that I have read and really loved is Bleak House, which is a wholesale attack on the legal system (or at least on the Court of Chancery). I've not been particularly enamoured by the other novels which I've read (Great Expectations and Oliver Twist). I'm hoping that A Tale of Two Cities leaves me with a greater appreciation of Dickens' work.
"


Me too Kim. I'm enjoying TOTC so far and Bleak House sounds worth trying. To date I have tried Dickens's works a couple of times and not got through them. The group buddy read is a good way for me to have another attempt.

As for the story the running over of the child was a chilling and engrossing piece of story telling.

It makes the reader wonder how people could be so cruel about life, especially a child's...that small lifeless bundle, but you see the chasm between haves and have nots as wide indeed with the proleteriat valueless outside the tasks they did for their masters. Dickens shows this cruelty as a way of life and that people really can have no conscience or care.

And of course retribution...?


Geevee It was interesting to see Dickens have Mr. Stryver suggest that he would take Miss Manette to Vauxhall or Ranelagh pleasure gardens.

Some readers may not be familiar with these two jewels of London past, so I've attached a couple of links, which I hope people find interesting.

Ranelagh was next to the Royal Hospital Chelsea (home of the famous Chelsea Pensioners) and is now used for the RHS Chelsea Flower show http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranelagh...


Vauxhall Gardens closed the year Dickens wrote TOTC http://www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxha.... This website, by a chap called David Coke, is a treasure trove about the gardens and the entertainment available and the singers, musicians and others artist who performed there.


message 23: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) Thanks for the links, Geevee. Anyone who's ever read any Georgette Heyer will be familiar with Vauxhall and Ranelagh.


message 24: by Dawn (& Ron) (last edited Jun 07, 2012 04:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Marialyce wrote: Chapter IX "There was a lot of references to stone including the Marquis heart of stone plus the physical and mental place he lived in in the chapter plus the Marquis in his death is tuned to stone (rigid/morbidity).

I imagine he had wonderful fun coming up with the names.However, in this novel, his name are quite straightforward and there is very little humor for which he was well known in his other books. "


Yes, picked up on all that reference to stone and it even goes into his manner, and family history, toward peasants and his nephew. The whole chapter had a feeling of coldness and hardness to it.

I think because this doesn't have the expected humor is why I'm enjoying the touches I do find. Like this from chapter XI "I am not going to guess, at five o'clock in the morning, with my brains frying and sputtering in my head. If you want me to guess, you must ask me to dinner."

You are at chapter XXI already, you will soon be leaving and heading over to book 3. I am starting chapter XII.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Jeannette wrote: "I am just at the same place, Sylvia. I feel sorry for Mrs. Cruncher, with all her frustrated flopping and praying. Even Cruncher, Jr. is against her."

I did too, she was sadly just the maid in that home and totally disrespected. I wonder if we will see anymore of her.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Geevee wrote: "It makes the reader wonder how people could be so cruel about life, especially a child's...that small lifeless bundle, but you see the chasm between haves and have nots as wide indeed with the proletariat valueless outside the tasks they did for their masters. Dickens shows this cruelty as a way of life and that people really can have no conscience or care.

And of course retribution...? "


Geevee, what chapter are you in? I don't remember that about taking Lucie to the pleasure gardens, or was that right after the trial?

That carriage accident scene was something wasn't it! After all, it was such an inconvenience to him having his carriage go over that lifeless bundle, it couldn't have possibly been more of an inconvenience to anyone else, that's what Dickens portrays so well. What makes it more chilling is that it is based on real life incidents of the time. He paints the differences and foreboding of events so well.

I think the buddy read with all these varied opinions and insights is certainly adding to the read for me. I look forward to checking in to see what everyone is discussing and where everyone is. I love it when someone points out something I didn't notice and when they point out something I did not notice and had the same or different reaction.

Kim wrote: " Thanks for the links, Geevee. Anyone who's ever read any Georgette Heyer will be familiar with Vauxhall and Ranelagh.

Kim is the Heyer expert and wonderful font of information on Heyerisms. I couldn't have read my first Heyer last year without her and Jemidar, and I'm not exaggerating.


Margaret | 173 comments Okay I've just finished chapter 15 and since this is my first time commenting on this thread I first want to say:

Chapter 7 Monseigneur In Town: Was I the only one who found the description of him and his guests funny? Seriously, from his insistence of having no less than four people attend to his chocolate to the guests and of course this quote I just loved: "If the Day of Judgment had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct." I swear, Dickens held nothing back when setting the scene and I have to admit it gave me a few chuckles. :)

The second half of that chapter of course, did not make me laugh but you guys have pretty much covered everything I would have said on that one so I'll move on.

Chapter 15 Knitting: WHOA! I still remember chapter 7 when the Marquis surveyed the scene after running over that child he observed a stout woman knitting - I knew it was Mrs. Defarge but it never occured to me that the knitting might be something more than just a tic or habit. Interesting!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Margaret, That woman was a great planner and had a method behind her madness as you will see.

I agree, that chocolate scene was funny and Dickens could always be comically tragic when he wanted to. He also could be just plain funny with a bit of sarcasm thrown in on the side.


Margaret | 173 comments Where Dickens is concerned his humor is what I love best about him and it formed the very foundation behind why I love him so much I think of him as "Charlie".

You know, I, too was searching for his crazy names and was surprised that even the most ridiculous characters had perfectly normal ones.

You mentioned friendships between some of the classic authors before; one of my favorite stories of Dickens' friends was when Hans Christian Anderson overstayed his welcome at Charlie's house. It was supposed to be a fortnight but turned into five weeks! When he finally left Charlie wrote in the guestroom: "Hans Christian Anderson slept in this room for five weeks which seemed to the family ages!"


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) He was and is classically wonderful!


Geevee Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "Geevee, what chapter are you in? I don't remember that about taking Lucie to the pleasure gardens, or was that right after the trial?
..."


It's at the start of Book 2 Chapter 12 ands I'm just about to start chapter.

Like wise too the discussions and people's inputs are making this a very enjoyable read.


Geevee Margaret wrote: "...Chapter 7 Monseigneur In Town: Was I the only one who found the description of him and his guests funny? Seriously, from his insistence of having no less than four people attend to his chocolate to the guests and of course this quote I just loved: "If the Day of Judgment had only been ascertained to be a dress day, everybody there would have been eternally correct." ..."

I liked this Margaret too, although perhaps not funny for me but the absurdity of 4 people attending to his needs over chocholate. How Dickens describes this is superb in the emphasis on the bloated and ridiculousness of the higher echelons of society to really place the distinctions between classes in France at that time for the reader. You will see this theme and fine description again later with the mention of dolls and birds.


Dawn (& Ron) (furryreaders) | 456 comments Margaret wrote: "Okay I've just finished chapter 15 and since this is my first time commenting on this thread I first want to say:

Chapter 7 Monseigneur In Town: Was I the only one who found the description of him..."


I found it funny and absurd which I think is what he was going for.

Did anyone else find the chapter titles of chapters 12 - The Fellow of Delicacy and 13 - The Fellow of No Delicacy, rather ironic? I felt the titles fit the other Fellow better.

"think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!" Can't be put much more delicately than that.


message 34: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Finished chapter 4:

and who is the mysterious Carton? All very strange.


Sylvia (sylviahartstra) I'm still in court, where Miss Manette has testified, that the prisoner (she may not say 'gentleman') has been very kind for her father on the ferry from Calais to Dover. Again she got emotional over the matter, just as when she met Mr. Lorry at Dover to get her lost (who she has never known) father out of France, when she took care of 'One Hundred and Five, North Tower' her unknown father. I like Miss Manette, I like Mr. Manette and Mr. Lorry, but I don't like Cruncher & Son, because they disrespected their wife and mother.


message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) Hayes wrote: "Finished chapter 4:

and who is the mysterious Carton? All very strange."


Mr Carton - an early version of the tortured hero with multiple "issues"? (You know how much I love heroes with issues!)


message 37: by Hayes (last edited Jun 09, 2012 01:06AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Ha! Yes, we will see how Mr Carton's story works out.

(view spoiler)

ETA: just finished chapter 5 and I'm more confused than before!


message 38: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) What in particular confuses you, Hayes?


Jemidar | 358 comments Dawn (& Ron) wrote: "think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!"

I really disliked this bit. I mean, there's nothing like ruining (view spoiler) before we're even halfway thru the book! It was most indelicately done on Dickens' part :-(.


message 40: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Kim wrote: "What in particular confuses you, Hayes?"

What exactly is his connection with the lawyer (I've already forgotten his name, ugh!) and the whole strange work set up.


message 41: by Jemidar (last edited Jun 09, 2012 01:37PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jemidar | 358 comments I believe he's acting as his legal clerk (is that the right term Kim?) but in reality is the brains behind the lawyers success. He does all the hard work and the other guy is getting the credit.

In one of their conversations it is noted that they have been friends since school and went to uni and France together for further study.


message 42: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) I think that Carton is acting more as junior counsel to Stryver than as a legal clerk, although that's not technically accurate as Stryver is not as far as I can tell a QC (that is, Queen's Counsel). A QC, referred to as "senior counsel", always appears in Court with a barrister who is not a QC, who is referred to as "junior counsel".

However, there's nothing all that unusual about barristers doing work in pairs and that appears to be what's happening here. There's also nothing that unusual about junior counsel doing all the hard work and senior counsel getting all the glory!

I agree about Carton's speech. That is some major foreshadowing. There's certainly nothing subtle about Dickens!


message 43: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Thanks, Ladies. I got that part, about him being the clerk and all, and the other getting the glory: I wasn't very clear, sorry.

While it is common that juniors do the work of seniors (still happens today, after all) it seems that there is somehting very shady going on. What I was confused about is why Carton had to do the work at 3 in the morning, drunk as a skunk, with a wet towel wrapped around his head! The whole mental image is very strange and wonderful (typically Dickens).


Sylvia (sylviahartstra) Carton also frequents Doctor Manette's house. I just read about his visit and that of Mr Darney.
What a mystery! Is there a relation with the story about the DIG in the tower and Doctor Manette's reaction.
Dickens is building up the tension with the real thunderstorm and the storm that is coming by the uprising of the people.


message 45: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jun 10, 2012 03:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I finished this section and in Chapter 24, Charles decides to return to Paris to help the caretaker of the Marquis' estate. Bad move on his part I think and to leave his wife and child seems to me cruel especially considering that Lucie does not know of his departure. I believe Charles is acting irresponsibly and of course will be made to suffer for this judgement call.

Interestingly E.M. Forster famously criticized Dickens’s characters as “flat,” lamenting that they seem to lack the depth and complexity that make literary characters realistic and believeable." Some critics say that Dickens sacrifices strong characters for his historical account in The Tale of Two Cities. They believe the history interferes with what Dickend did best, that of making memorable characters which they say are lacking in this book.. Do you agree?


Jemidar | 358 comments Hayes wrote: "Thanks, Ladies. I got that part, about him being the clerk and all, and the other getting the glory: I wasn't very clear, sorry.

While it is common that juniors do the work of seniors (still happ..."


The wet towel round his head is a hangover/headache cure and I thought the working through the night was about his dissipated habits but could be wrong.


message 47: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) I agree, J. They don't have to work late into the night. They do it because Carton is the brains of the outfit and he's been out drinking. Some reference in the text makes me think that Carton's not just a drunk but probably has bi-polar disorder, or at the very least suffers from depression.


message 48: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim (kimmr) Marialyce, I'm only up to Chapter 17, but I think I might end up agreeing with Forster about the characterisation. The characters all seem rather one-note so far, although there's still plenty of time for that to change.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

I just read the part with the four men serving the chocolate, and Dickens' descriptions of all of the beautiful and important people waiting for a nod or a look from the Monseigneur. Am I the only one who finds these descriptive passages a bit hard to get through? I get the general meaning, but sometimes I re-read a sentence, because I can't be sure if the sentence has a verb in it.

I think Carton is an interesting character, a man who has wasted his talents, his youth, and his potential.


Jemidar | 358 comments I like the character of Carton the most out of all of them and would have loved it if Dickens had seen fit to redeem him and allow him to turn over a new leaf.


« previous 1 3 4
back to top