Esteemed Mr. Dickens,
You are by this point familiar with my previous struggle with your works. Fortunately, after electing to read Oliver Twist, we were able to repair our fractured relationship and enjoy each other's company. However, it was still not without consternation that I began your later work, A Tale of Two Cities. You may remember the number of (fruitless) attempts that I previously made to enjoy this particular tale. Although I picked up the volume at multiple stages of my life, I could never get past the second chapter. After my delightful experience with Oliver Twist, I vowed that I would give this novel, described by some of my friends as your best, a second chance. However, as the time to read it approached, I wondered if I should get in another novel before attempting A Tale of Two Cities, strengthening our fragile relationship.
When I noticed your name on the roster of this month's installment of The Classics Circuit, however, I thought that the pressure of a deadline would inspire me to finish. I dug out my Dover thrift edition (cheap binding and tiny print) and settled in with the book on my two hour bus ride. Once again, the first two chapters will difficult for me. Despite the famed quote at the beginning ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times") the beginning of the book meandered and muddled for me. Don't get me wrong - it was eloquent - but I just had no idea what was happening. The air of mystery surrounding the stagecoach did not only cloak the passengers in darkness, but my own awareness of what was going on. However, as Mr. Lorry emerged from the night into the adventures of rescuing Dr. Manette, the plot also brightened for me. Once the characters began to take shape, your heavy words enhanced instead of obscured the scenes.
I am currently one hundred pages in. While the reading is thick, so far it has been rewarding. I am curious to know who imprisoned Dr. Manette, what exactly Charles Darnay is doing in France, and who will win the heart of Lucie Manette (okay, so it really isn't that much of a surprise, Mr. Dickens - I am pretty sure my assumptions will be correct. But I want to humor you in the challenge you are presenting with Sydney Carton). I positively delight in Miss Pross and her horror of the "hundreds of men" coming to call on Lucie. I am also enjoying your language once again. While it isn't as humorous as in Oliver Twist, it still presents shades of humor and sarcasm. To me, Oliver Twist seems like you are writing in caricature and A Tale of Two Cities seems like you are writing in earnest. It seems a little more real with a little more emotion. While I wasn't able to finish the book by my deadline, I have made considerably more progress than ever before (and the number of attempts I've made have been numerous, so this is a great milestone). I will send you my review once I finish the book.
The Story Girl