Dear Mr. Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities (finished)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dear Mr. Dickens,

I think that in reality, you thought I couldn't do it. You were silently laughing to yourself at my futile attempts to get through your acclaimed work, considering me to be too stupid, too naive to understand what my friend Sam called "his easiest novel," what I always heard described as "a lovely book," but what I could nevertheless not fathom.

However, I have defeated it. It took me months, and there were a few moments of tearing my hair, but I finished the book.

But don't feel too defeated, Mr. Dickens. In reality, this is a two-way victory. Because after I got through your soliloquies on the best and worst times, the unintelligible rantings of Jerry Cruncher, the overabundance of Jacques, and the over-explanation of some things, under-explanation of others, I found myself deeply connected and invested with your story.

Mr. Dickens, I even cried. On public transportation. I know that you don't have buses in your sphere of reality, but compare it to crying in a giant cab filled with over fifty people. I was that swept up.

I've told you the things I struggled with in a paragraph above, and if you are sufficiently humbled, I will build up your confidence once more and tell you the reasons it warmed my heart. It was a slow process, I'll admit. It took time for me to love your characters. However, they stole quietly into my heart. It was so moving to hear Lucie plead for Charles Darnay and to see the devotion she had for her father. She was a bit insipid as far as heroines go, but sweet in her way. And Darnay was obviously upstanding, although it seemed more in principle than in action. Yes, he gave up his position and was ostensibly a good person, but it was something I heard about rather than saw for myself.

But Sidney Carton - nice work, Mr. Dickens. I have never seen such an effective transformation of a character that was so believable. He is the best example I have ever seen of love overcoming all things. I don't want to say more - I don't want to ruin the story for anyone else who may happen to come across our correspondence in the future. But you took me from a bored reader just trying to overcome this beast of a book to a passionate player in the story, knowing exactly what will happen but spellbound anyway. I still wish you hadn't made it such a tough nut to crack, but this will forever be a book that I recommend now - with a grain of salt, mind you, but recommended all the time. It is a must read for everyone who wants to understand the human condition. Thank you.

The Story Girl

4 stars


  1. It was the second book I read this year.:) I didn't care much for his characters either. Though I had a soft corner for Mr Lorry, and I admired the way he sketched Mme Defarge...and it was only at the end that I really appreciated Sydney Carton. But to me, the story was really the description of the revolution more than anything else. I loved the way Dickens captured the essence of the human spirit - both in its ups and downs, its nobility and its crudeness. That's what made A Tale of Two Cities a favourite of mine!

    Lovely written 'review', btw.:)

  2. Good that you made it and such a nicely written review! I haven't read much from Dickens since I struggled through Oliver Twist. I might give this book a try some day though.

  3. Congrats on making it through this chunkster. I have it queued up in my iPad but I have been avoiding it out of intimidation. The book scares me a bit. But after this review, I'm thinking that I'll have to brave it!

  4. Lovely, lovely review. It was funny, snarky, and so creative to do it in a letter to the author, but you still review the book really well.

  5. This is the best example of a book that has a slow beginning with a great ending. I find Dickens' long, dramatic musings so hilarious, whether he intended them to be or not, that they don't even bother me. I always imagine that since he got paid by the word, it was his tongue-in-cheek way of saying how ridiculous that idea is. But that's purely in my imagination, I have no idea if that was his intent. I just know it makes me laugh. And I cried too at the end of this one. Great drama!

  6. @Risa - Thank you! I really like your comment - I feel like it sums it up exactly. The characters were well done but I don't think they were Dickens' focus. I think I would have liked the book a bit better and struggled with it less if it had focused more on them, but what Dickens was doing is definitely admirable.

    @Pepca - Thank you! I have struggled with Dickens for a long time but he is really starting to grow on me.

    @Jennifer - I think it is worth the struggle to get through - but it definitely is a struggle.

    @Swapna - Thank you so much! I really appreciate that coming from a reviewer I admire. :)

    @Shelley - Wouldn't it be nice if we were paid by the word to blog? Haha. It seems to have worked out well for Dickens!

  7. I'm currently reading this! I hope it becomes one I recommend. :D

    1. I hope so too! I look forward to your thoughts on it!


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