logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Charles-Dickens
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-13 15:15
3/5: Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens,Mark Ford

Nicholas Nickleby is thrown into increasing debt on the death of his father. With a sister and a widowed mother to take care of, he travels to London and seek the help of his uncle. The only problem is, uncle Ralph is a miserable and miserly money-lender with who wouldn’t spit on Nicholas if he was on fire. Grudgingly, he packs Nick off to Yorkshire, and so his adventures to find his own fortune begin.

Nick arrives at an appalling boys school called Dotheboys Hall, run by a one-eyed child-hating Wackford Squeers. It’s tense as to how long Nick will keep his easily-lost temper with all the casual cruelty going on (If only it had been merely fictional…). It’s a delight when he finally snaps and metes some punishment to the Squeers family. I practically cheered.

Nick leaves Yorkshire in a hurry after that, and the book starts to ramble a little. He finds himself in London (briefly, to argue with his uncle), then on the road again and heading to the coast to become a sailor…but he’s diverted into becoming an actor instead. You can tell Dickens is having fun at the expense of actors and theatres in general through that section – he acted often, and the odd characters Nick meets seem like they were people Dickens would have met.

Determined to carve a living for himself, Nick eventually finds some good friends in the Cheerbyle brothers and their bottomless goodwill and endless philanthropy.

Nick’s good fortune - and more importantly, his good friends and family – are contrasted with Uncle Ralph, who lives alone, unloved and uncared for in a cold and draughty home with a single housekeeper (he’s rich and could afford to warm it; he’s just too tight with money). He looms in the background of Nick’s life throughout the book. Nick would be quite happy to ignore him, but Ralph has made it his mission to break him. It ultimately ends up breaking Ralph, instead though…this is Dickens, after all, and happy endings are guaranteed.

This was the third of Dickens novels, written in monthly instalments between 1838 and ’39. It starts off strongly enough, with the backstory of how Ralph and Nick’s father came be estranged, and the collapse of the Nickleby estate and the journey to London. But then it starts to ramble – there are two chapters which are nothing more than travellers relating to Nick some folk tales about York on his way there. I skipped them, and I know for a fact I didn’t miss a thing.

In fact the book doesn’t really settle into a rhythm until Nick finds himself back in London again, about halfway through. Even then, there’s almost a chapter dedicated to a dinner party for characters who live downstairs from Nick. They play a very peripheral part in the book, and I skimmed it until I saw the word “Nicholas” again. They turn up towards the climax for a single chapter to tie up their storyline.

The ending almost feels like an anti-climax, even though it’s obviously well developed and planned. I can see Dickens practically ticking boxes labelled “Loose ends” as he works through the epilogue. With the death of Ralph, it felt like the book ran out of steam immediately.

Villains really do get the best parts of a story.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-12-30 23:19
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 - New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Prophetic Bells
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In - Charles Dickens,Richard Armitage

Well, well -- nothing like ringing in the New Year (albeit a day early) with Charles Dickens: What he did for Christmas in the story about the old miser Scrooge, he did again a year later for New Year's Eve with this story; which is, however, quite a bit darker than A Christmas Carol.  Once again, a man is swept away to see the future; this time, however, it's not a miserly rich man but a member of the working classes, a porter named Toby (nicknamed Trotty) Veck eeking out a living near a church whose migihty bells ring out the rhythm of his life -- as if Dickens had wanted to remind his audience that the moral of A Christmas Carol doesn't only apply to the rich but, indeed, to everyone.  Along the way, the high, mighty and greedy are duly pilloried -- in this, The Chimes is decidedly closer to Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend, A Tale of Two Cities, and Bleak House than it is to A Christmas Carol -- and there are more than a minor number of anxious moments to be had before we're reaching the story's conclusion (which, in turn, however, sweeps in like a cross breed of those of Oliver Twist and Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest).

 

Richard Armitage's reading is phantastic: at times, there are overtones of John Thornton from the TV adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, (or in fact, both John Thornton and Nicholas Higgins) which matches the spirit of the story very well, however, since workers' rights and exploitation are explicitly addressed here, too, even if this story is ostensibly set in London, not in Manchester.

 

In the context of the 16 Festive Tasks, The Chimes is an obvious choice for the New Year's Eve holiday book joker, so that it is going to be.

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-12-30 14:51
December Wrap-up
Old Celtic Romances - P.W. Joyce
Sigil Witchery: A Witch's Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols - Laura Tempest Zakroff
Fairies:: A Guide to the Celtic Fair Folk - Morgan Daimler
Dreamtime Dragons - Nils Visser
The Grand Phantom - Harold Cloninger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns - Alicia Plummer,Melissa Schaschwary
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock - Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution - Paul Davies

Yes, there's one more day but although I'm getting close to finishing Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I definitely won't be finishing any other books before January 1st.

 

I seem to have given myself a lot of non-fiction to read this month. Mostly from Netgalley.

 

I expect to finish Uprooted between today and tomorrow so I'm counting 11 books for the month. Not bad for me!

 

The stand out ones besides Uprooted (which I'm really enjoying) would be The Toy Makers and the Dreamtime Dragons Anthology. Both have given me a lot of reading pleasure. I enjoyed the re-reading of A Christmas Carol too. 5 of the books are non-fiction so only a couple of meh books.

 

I also got through some of the samples backlog again. I've only got about 80 left. I collected a LOT over Halloween!

 

I still have some non-fiction reads in progress so that may slow me down for January reading, but I seem to be averaging more in a month than I used to. I blame all of you.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-12-29 18:10
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Something I enjoy reading over and over.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-12-21 15:51
Today is my last day of work for 2017!
Dickens at Christmas - Charles Dickens
Christmas Stories - Diana Secker Tesdell
Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (Poirot) - Agatha Christie
Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World's Most Celebrated Holiday - Gerry Bowler

I'm off work until January 4th, 2018, so I won't be around Booklikes all that much until the New Year.  You can see the books that I'll be busy with!

 

I'm especially pleased to get my hands on Christmas in the Crosshairs because I recommended that our public library purchase it.  Then when I went to put a hold on it, someone had beaten me to the punch and it wasn't due back until January 8th!  I felt much more wrathful than one is supposed to at this time of year!  But that dear person has returned the volume early (and I'm feeling the Christmas vibes, now, so I hope they enjoyed it) and it is waiting for me to pick up this evening.  Peace on earth, y'all.

 

I'm going on what I'm thinking of as my Christmas procession this year--a day with my aunt & her family on Saturday, Christmas Eve with my sister, and Christmas Day with my niece and great-nephew.  Then, for New Year's, I'm flying to the West Coast to spend time with my other sister and attend a family wedding.  This is going to be one of the busiest Christmas vacations on record!

 

I wish you & yours the happiest of Christmases and wish you all the best for the upcoming year!  I hope 2018 treats everyone well and I will be happy to return in January to see what you have all been reading and doing and hear all the news.

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?