Dickens Champions: Northfields Book Group read A Tale of Two Cities
4 October 2012 / 0 Comments
Dickens Champions Northfields Book Group in Ealing recently gathered together to discuss their latest Dickens' read, A Tale of Two Cities. This is what they thought:
It was the best of evenings...
The opening line of Dickens' A Tale of two Cities is so familiar that it is easily overlooked but the Northfields Book Club spent quite a while thinking about this oh so famous quote. The dichotomy it articulates is at the heart of the book.
The split between the aristocracy and the 'people' of revolutionary France provide the main contrast. We found that Dickens' drew us into favouring the 'proles' and then, later, sympathising with Charles and his aristocratic misfortune.
Turning to less intellectual matters, we mulled over the fantastic descriptions of the landlord, landlady and patrons of the wine shop and the fermenting of the revolutionary fever. The comedy of the three 'Jacques' grabbed us and, also, back in London the court messengers were equally well studied.
Where we felt less than enthralled was with the development of the female characters who were bequeathed with inhuman characteristics, common to Dickens we felt. At times though, Miss Pross's passion breathed some lively moments into the more poignant passages.
Strengths of the novel, we thought were the depictions of life at court and in prison and we know that here Dickens had much real-life experience to draw on. Echoes of the severe judgements handed out are still to be found in the sentences awarded by courts in Ireland. In 2008, 276 people were sent to prison in Ireland for non-payment of a civil debt although this practice has now ended.
One of our number is somewhat of a Dickens' ambassador and we learnt how this was one of the novels to be serialised on a weekly rather than a monthly basis.This seemed to mean less repetition of character descriptions although the plot seemed rather convoluted and made to fit the created coincidences, of Carton and Darney and of Dr Manette's letter. Reference back to the list of characters reminds us of those that we overlook in a one-off reading but may stick more in the mind of those reading weekly installments.
Read what Dickens Champions MK Borrowers thought of A Tale of Two Cities.
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Remember to watch out for our Dickens Champions' blog posts as they read and review their way through Dickens during 2012.