A Tale of Two Cities
I’ve read a few of Charles Dickens’ books, and it’s always difficult to read the first time round. This was the first read through of this book and I struggled to keep on reading.
A note to add, I rarely if ever read the blurb of the book. I prefer to go into a book with no idea what the story is about. And even though this book is on most need to read lists, I had no idea what it was about.
The main characters are all written excellently. They are realistic, even the ones I didn’t like. My favourite character is Miss Pross, such a strong female character, has her own set of faults and is someone I’d love to meet.
The villain (not going to identify) is truly terrifying and doesn’t have any re-deeming characteristics, which is sad as they become someone truly hateful. I always like a villain I can identify with instead of an out-an-out baddie.
The tertiary characters weren’t as realistic. I found those characters jerked me out of the story and made it difficult to read on.
As the book follows the characters over several years, I was disappointed that they didn’t seem to grow as characters. Their starting point and ending point didn’t produce a big arc. The biggest arc, for me, was Mr. Carton and I had guessed his role very early on. In that sense, it wasn’t much of an arc.
The descriptions, the settings, the weather were all fantastic. I really enjoyed how he personified the weather and the two cities. They all became extra characters in the book.
The book is divided into three parts, I loved the third part. I will be reading this book again just because of that part. The first part was okay, I didn’t expect much as it is the setting up of the main characters and the cities where the action all happens. The second part dragged by, oh wow, it is so long and so boring. Every few pages, not chapters but actual pages, I’d have to analyse if it was worth it to keep reading. It’s the longest portion of the book and I honestly think it could have been halved. I ended up looking up the blurb to see what the book was about because I was more then half way through and still had no idea where the story was going.
I am happy I preserved because I read the third part in two sittings. It was exciting and full of action that my brain and imagination really needed. Which, if that was Mr. Dickens ploy, then it worked, but at a severe cost.
Now, I love history and finding out about history through fiction novels is great. To be fair, though, before reading this book I wanted to learn more about France’s history, so this book hasn’t changed that. However, it does make me wonder at how he has portrayed the French working class and aristocrats.
The French poor and working class come across as brutal savages. The aristocrats are seen as these poor innocent naïve angels, except for that one particular family of plonkers. This is the part of the character portrayal that I found hard to swallow. And this makes me want to read some history books from both the French version and the English version to see what it was really like.
The whole second part dragged me down and I had made my decision to never read this book again. Thankfully, as I’ve already mentioned, the third part saved the book. I will read it again so that I can maybe change my opinion on the second part. Maybe, it was needed, or as I know the story now different parts will shine out to me. We shall see.
- One star for characters
- One star for worldbuilding
- Half a star for the story
- No star for thought provoking
- Half a star for overall enjoyment
Which gives a three star rating.