Books, classics, Fiction, Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens  is a book full of quotes. It is the book, in which the lines must be quoted and not para-phrased. I remember first picking up this book when I was fifteen but never finished. Until last year, when I finished the book. Charles Dickens has been a very important personality in my life. I got to know him when i was thirteen when I remember reading Oliver Twist which had an impact over me at that time.

Dickens characters always has never failed to amaze me but A Tale of Two Cities is all about the storyline which is set during era of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. It is a story of love, betrayal, courage, and of sacrifice and redemption. A Tale of Two Cities begins with Miss Lucie Manette and Mr. Jarvis Lorry make a trip to Paris because they believe they’ve found her father. Dickens describes their venture as on their, “way to dig someone out of the grave.” After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter.

Years later after Doctor’s release, Lucie and Dr. Manette take part in the trial of Charles Darnay, who is found innocent, and Darnay seeks Lucie’s hand in marriage. When revolutionaries learn that Darnay is related to an evil aristocrat, they imprison him the next time he is in France. Sydney Carton determines he can bring value to his life by rescuing Darnay. The novel successfully cover the theme of self-sacrifice and self-worth. It also provides social commentaries on British and French culture and politics. 

Charles Dickens based his historical details of French Revolution and the private lives of a group of people caught up in the cataclysms of the French Revolution, on Carlyle’s great work – The French Revolution – and also on his own observations and investigations during his numerous visits to Paris. Unlike the descriptions of London, Dickens fails to interest me in his observations of the French Revolution. He oversimplifies the causes of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

Many people say it is a mystery novel but the point is arguable that it is not. A Tale of Two Cities fails to astonish me as Dickens other work, especially the ‘real’ mystery novel Bleak House and satisfying David Copperfield.

3 out of 5.

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28 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens”

  1. Great book! I always used the film version to introduce my reluctant readers to Dickens-usually they only knew him through A Christmas Carol… By the way, had the interesting experience of seeing Dickens’ great grandson perform a one-man Christmas show this year. He was great, too! His name is Gerald Dickens, and I think he has a blog…

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  2. I think this may actually be the next Dickens I read. You’ve made it sound quite interesting so I’m keen to actually get around to it now.

    I read A Christmas Carol in December and then The Old Curiosity Shop in January or February this year and those were my first ventures in to Dickens. I have since acquired a number more to read and A Tale of Two Cities I think may be a good 3rd.

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      1. Mild spoilers lie ahead. A Tale of Two Cities was one of the very first “grown up” novels I ever read, and I think that’s one reason it remains a favorite for me. Sidney Carton was the first fictional character I encountered who was full of bad habits, yet did something heroic. I liked that change from children’s stories. And the clever knitting! That stuck with me.

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  3. I’ve read a few of Dickens’ novels and, like you, first read this one when I was still at school. I didn’t really appreciate it then. I’ve since taken a great interest not only in Dickens as an author, but in the French Revolution – having taught about it for several years. I saw the film ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ many years ago too. Your review had made me want to read the novel again.

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      1. The movie’s a really old one (1950s) with Dirk Bogarde playing Sydney Carton. It was probably in the 70s that i saw it, but it’s been on TV a time or two. You’re right, dramatisations do bring back reading memories. Good review, anyway.

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  4. Tale of Two Cities have the most copies sold of a book as a single volume and not a series. I think this really shows how people in terms of numbers respond to the book. I’m not a fan per-ce of Dickens, I have read a few of his works but they weren’t necessarily the plot or characters at this time I would have chosen to read about. I’ve been waiting to get my copy from the post though so let’s see.

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    1. I haven’t read both of the titles you have mentioned, but for me David Copperfield works fine. I am having a copy go Hard Times with me and hopefully soon, I will be done with it and will be posting a review then.

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  5. I wasn’t too impressed on my first read through, mainly because of the standard of his other works but the more I think about it the dualities of the main characters and cities the more I find myself impressed with it.

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  6. I agree that the book isn’t a mystery in the typical sense. But at the same time, discovering how the characters fit together (the Marquis and Charles Darnay, Madame Defarge and the Darnays, etc.) is kind of a mystery in and of itself. By the end of the book you have unraveled all of the intertwining plot lines that retrospectively show why the characters acted in the way that they did (which is basically exactly what a classic mystery novel does). I love this method of writing!

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    1. If you loved this method of writing, believe me, you should read his Bleak House. It’s a real mystery and surprising part his, he has taken account of so many characters and remembers them all by the end of the book.

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  7. I love all works of Dickens, however, David Copperfield is my favorite book of all time! In the last few years, I have been living in Poland, Turkey and Dubai. This book is always with me, wherever I go.

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  8. Well, I never thought of Two Cities as a mystery. I do like it more than you do. I guess I don’t mind the broad strokes he uses to paint the French Revolution. I didn’t know about the Carlyle, so thanks for that. I will have to try Bleak House one of these days.

    And I’d love to hear more about why Dickens matters so much to you.

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