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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.

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text 2016-12-12 15:10
Abandoning after 1 hour
Nicholas Nickleby - Simon Vance,Charles Dickens

As much as liked David Copperfield, I am abandoning Nicholas Nickleby --and may even decide to return it and get my money/credit back. It is beautifully written but I don't think I can listen to another 34 hours of it. It is just depressing. The people aren't nice and they don't treat children very well. Even if it is satire and an exaggeration, I just don't want to read about it.

 

I'm off now, to choose a more up-beat book to read while I spend the next few days baking holiday cookies.

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review 2015-10-09 22:49
My love affair with Dickens
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

I thought it was time that I come clean about my adoration of Charles Dickens. It all started with Nicholas Nickleby and it definitely snowballed from there. However, that wasn't my first foray into all things Dickensian. Like many people, it was compulsory to read Great Expectations while in school but I don't think that's the way to lead someone down the path of Dickens admirer. At least it wasn't for me. I know that Dickens is an acquired taste and for many of you reading this your interest in any of his novels is minimal at best. But I hope you'll hear me out as I gush about my favorite Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities. Yes, it's his most famous work. That is for a very good reason. It's absolutely phenomenal. The story is told before and during the French Revolution and focuses on a key group of characters who one instantly feels are real. Your heart aches for Dr. Manette, you stand a little straighter with Darnay, and you are filled with hope for the future by Carton. A story of loss, love, and liberty; A Tale of Two Cities can't be beat.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2015-09-06 00:00
Nicholas Nickleby
Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens,Jill Muller Wonderful classic book. Enjoyed it a lot.
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review 2015-07-13 00:00
Nicholas Nickleby
Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens 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.
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