A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
With his sublime parting words, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” Sydney Carton joins that exalted group of Dickensian characters who have earned a permanent place in the popular literary imagination. His dramatic story, set against the volcanic fury of the French Revolution and pervaded by the ominous rumble of the death carts trundling toward the guillotine, is the heart-stirring tale of a heroic soul in an age gone mad.
Just so you know, I’m a little bit timid to post a review of such a classic. So all you Dickens fans, don’t hurt me.
My first impression of Tale was complete and total hatred of it. The first chapters were unbearably slow, and so laced with metaphor and symbolism that I reread them several times. But the book didn’t stay boring at all. Once Doctor Manette is introduced, it’s all uphill. The more you read Dickens, the better you understand him, until his symbolism and foreshadowing, etc, only add to the story. The beginning is slightly painful to get through, only because nothing’s happening. The middle is vaguely interesting, and occasionally quite suspenseful. The end of the book is by far the best part. It’s written wonderfully and emotionally, with both suspense and dramatic irony. The last chapter is the most amazing; the last few pages are written beautifully.
If you can get through Dickens’ slow beginning, you’ll fall in love with A Tale of Two Cities. It takes him a while to get going, but once he does, he’ll leave you crying and smiling and speechless.
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