It seems that I'm destined to read all of Dickens...eventually. So, I can now check off yet another of his lengthy, but engaging stories. This is the third of his novels, and the eighth or ninth one I've read. Dickens can be a bit long winded at times, but he never fails to entertain.
As with most Dickens that I've read, we have the struggle between good and evil, between malevolent and benign. Nicholas Nickelby is a young gentleman whose father lost his fortune. He, his mother (who is so silly that she makes Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice
seem like a sane, rational, intelligent woman) and his sister (obviously intelligent, lovely, and saintly, right?) are thrown upon the good graces, so to speak, of Nicholas uncle Ralph, the avaricious brother of his father. Ralph is a miser and usurer who doesn't do anything without thought of personal gain. So he farms Nicholas out as an assistant schoolmaster at a boarding school in Yorkshire. The sister is sent to work for a dress maker. Naturally, both endeavors are somewhat sketchy.
So, we have a long, engaging tale of Nicholas' slow rise in fortunes and Ralph's slow descent into the pit, so to speak. Along the way, we meet all manner of strange characters, the good and righteous ones eventually succeeding and living lives of happiness and good fellowship, and the malevolent ones, failing. But the victory of good over evil is not at all obvious until we near the end. Before then, we've oodles of worries and tension. Dickens is rather a nineteenth-century version of a sit-com. The episodes appeared at regular intervals, and Dickens' readers found themselves totally engaged in finding out what happened next.