|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Tale of Two Cities » User review

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens' classic 1859 novel, which takes place before and during the French Revolution.

< read all 17 reviews

It is the best of books, it is the worst of books....

  • May 11, 2006
  • by
Rating:
+1
I was first introduced to this book when I was 14 years old in my 8th grade English class. I found it utterly overwhelming; in its cast, its plotlines, its settings, its themes and most of all, in the intricate web the various relationships create. I only understood three things about this book. First, the two cities are London and Paris. Second, France was convulsing itself with the French Revolution while England was undergoing changes that would prepare it to enter the Industrial Revolution. Third, English in Dickens' time did not resemble English at the end of the 20th century, but somehow seemed similar to the English used in Hollywood epic movies from the 1950s and 1960s like Spartacus, Ben-hur, the Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, etc...

Years later, I picked up this book and reread it. I considered this a labor, not of love, but of duty. This book is so famous and used so often in English literature classes that I felt I had to read it again for a deeper understanding. What I got from this book a 2nd time around is a profoundly subtle yet accurate sociological and psychological study of what happens to a society and a community that is built on shaky foundations. Specifically, France was an aristocracy where a tiny minority owned all the land. The rest of society was organized into tiers that varied in their opportunities of becoming landowners. Because of this pyramid structure, most of the people hewed to the social order knowing that yes they get crapped on by those above them, but there's always somebody below them to take advantage of.

Eventually this social Ponzi scheme comes to a screeching halt with the French Revolution. Enough people have had enough that they decide to start over. In the process a lot of people get killed and a lot of property changes hands. So woven into this story of a society's collapse are individual tales of woe, revenge, sacrifice, retribution, love and lust. Some are wrongly imprisoned or executed, while others willingly trade places to free those who have been marked for punishment. Families are torn asunder, and friendships are made and betrayed.

Overall, this book is a classic; though not appropriate for anyone not in their mid-teens yet. Its careful depiction of a society warrants its reading for those interested in 18th century Western history. But it should be read with notes and study guides for its depth and complexity can easily lose the interest and focus of many readers.

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
0
Thought-Provoking
0
Fun to Read
0
Well-Organized
0
Post a Comment
More A Tale of Two Cities reviews
review by . July 01, 2009
Dickens devoted considerable effort to naming his serials, and "Rolling Stones" was one of his possible titles for Two Cities. How different would this literary classic and the milieu it occupied have been had its famous title and its even more famous first line been different?    Its easy to say this is yet another Dickens classic as if to condemn it by faint praise. However, this book stands out as a first among equals for several reasons:    1. It was a …
review by . April 19, 2010
What an interesting thought.       If it was possible for Dickens to write something that was less Dickensian than the rest of his impressive body of work, "A Tale of Two Cities" would qualify as the least Dickensian of them all. An absorbing historical work, a sharply moving forward tempo, little if any comic relief and a minimum of florid prose (at least relative to his own characteristic standard of an abundance of unnecessary embellishment) make A Tale of Two Cities …
review by . November 16, 2010
Excellent edition of Dickens' master work
A Tale of Two Cities is Charles Dickens' master work. It explores powerful issues of class, as played out against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Certain of the Dickens' characters in this novel have become emblematic of the times, such as Madam DeFarge, the probably insane working class woman who knits and cackles as she screams for others to be executed by guillotine. And Sydney Carton, the drunken wastrel whose bravery and self-sacrifice crown the story.      …
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
Dickens is at his best in the description department with this book. Sydney is one of the greatest character of classic literature.
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Charles Dickens' heart-rending classic novel of life in London and Paris during the French Revolution deals with themes of love, loyalty, duty, honour and personal commitment to the rectification of past wrongs. The least Dickensian of all of Dickens' novels!
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
As required reading in my literature class in high school, It proved to be pretty good. It's a classic for a reason, but still not my favorite ever.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
Quite a dense read and can get confusing at times, but interesting once you get through it.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Love the imagery and storyline of such an uncertain political time.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Can classics become immortal?
Quick Tip by . June 29, 2010
Enjoyed this in high school.
About the reviewer
Newton Ooi ()
Ranked #550
Hi everyone, so here is the rundown of me. I like reading and writing, nonfiction for both. I love movies, especially original ones. I like nonfiction music, eating out, and basketball. I love to travel, … more
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
newtonooi
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this book

Wiki

Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Richard Maxwell.
view wiki

Details

ISBN-10: 0141439602
ISBN-13: 978-0141439600
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Classics
First to Review
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists