Goodreads rating: 3.73/5 (438K+ ratings)
My rating: 5/10
First published: April – November 1859
Genre: Historical Fiction, Classics
The end was good!
I could almost leave the review at that. It took me FOREVER (as in 4 months) to read. Which for me is a very long time. I don’t think it’s taken me that long to read a book ever in my life. This was a) my first of the Classics that i’ve ever read, and b) my first Dickens novel.
Set in London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities revolves mainly around a Doctor, Dr Manette, his daughter Lucie, her husband Charles Darnay, and barrister Sydney Carton. It literally is a tale of two cities involving these protagonists. The opening line is a very famous one, i’m sure you’ve heard it (even I had!)
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
I found it really difficult to read for the first 3 quarters. I found out later that this is probably because the 45 chapters of A Tale of Two Cities were originally published in 31 weekly instalments. Which makes sense as the whole story – up until the last third – feels really disjointed. I couldn’t remember who was who, and it wasn’t until quite a way into the book that you found out how people are connected. I think I’ll need to re-read it one day now that I know the ending, which will probably make the rest of the book more enjoyable.
From what I’ve heard as I’ve been moaning to various friends, family members, and colleagues about how long it was taking me to read this book, this was not the best Dickens to start with. Many people have told me that Great Expectations is a better Dickens story – and I currently have that sitting on my shelf to read in about 10 books time!
Even though I gave this a 5/10 I would still recommend the story. The ending is absolutely perfect, and I’d recommend you read it solely for that reason.
She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always. - Doctor Manette
The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.
I am desperate. I don’t care an English Twopence for myself. I know that the longer I keep you here, the greater hope there is for my Ladybird. - Miss Pross
Far and wide lay a ruined country, yielding nothing but desolation. Every green leaf, every blade of grass and blade of grain, was as shrivelled and poor as the miserable people.
Death is Nature’s remedy for all things, and why not Legislation’s? Accordingly, the forger was put to Death; the utterer of a bad note was put to Death; the unlawful opener of a letter was put to Death; the purloiner of forty shillings and sixpence was put to Death; the holder of a horse at Tellson’s door, who made off with it, was put to Death.