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review 2016-06-16 00:59
Doctor Marigold by Charles Dickens

"I am Cheap Jack, and my own father's name was Willum Marigold."

And so we are introduced to Doctor Marigold, bestowed with such an unusual first name for a Cheap Jack in honour of the doctor who delivered him.  I did not imagine him in the appearance of the rather dandified peasant-gypsy looking gentleman on the cover to the left, but I suppose that's beside the point.  In any case, Doctor Marigold, as you know, is a Cheap Jack. For those who don't know what a Cheap Jack is (I raise my hand), it's a hawker who deals in bargain merchandise, anything from plates to frying pans to razors to watches to rolling pins and everything in between.  Marigold has followed his father's trade like a good son.

Doctor Marigold 1868
E.G. Dalziel
source Victoria Web

Soon Marigold marries a woman who is not a bad wife by his estimation, but whoa, does she have a temper!  She berates and torments her husband, and later beats their daughter, Sophy, while Marigold stands and watches.  Why doesn't he intervene?  Because it causes more of a ruckus than observing, and then people suspect that he is beating his wife.  Wimp.

Sophy grows up especially attached to her father and fearful of her mother -- no kidding.  Yet with their vagrant lifestyle, she becomes ill and passes away.  One fateful day, the now childless couple come across a mother beating her tearfully pleading daughter, and with a shrill scream his wife tears away and drowns herself in the river.  Good riddance.

Lonely Marigold now roams the country alone, until one day he comes across a deaf and dumb child whom he purchases and calls Sophy.  They are devoted to each other for years, until, when she reaches sixteen, he decides to have her educated and puts her in an institution for two years.  When he returns she is thrilled to see him, but as they resume their lives, he learns that she has acquired a suitor.  Old generous Marigold decides he cannot stand in the way of their love ---- although Sophy is willing to give it up to stay with her father ---- and allows them to marry.  The couple then move to China and five or so years later return with Marigold's granddaughter for a reunion.

E.A. Abbey
source Victoria Web

Again, Dickens is somewhat of a trial to read.  On one hand, his stories engage you for being overly maudlin and nauseatingly sentimental but I can never shake the feeling that he seems to think that as long as he uses affected emotional scenes and obscurely clever sentences, he can win adherents with such contrived effort.  I find it almost insulting. However, as much as the first part of the story really irritated me, I must admit, I somewhat fell for it in the end. Perhaps Dickens achieved his desired effect after all.



© Cleo and Classical Carousel, Years 2014 - 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cleo and Classical Carousel with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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text 2014-02-07 23:13
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show."


Dickens was an author who had not appealed to me in my teens so, in an effort to expand my horizons, I began to follow a book group that was reading through his works chronologically.  Since joining them, I have been able to read Martin ChuzzlewitDombey and Son, and my most recent read, David Copperfield.







Fatherless, David Copperfield lives with his mother and their spunky and loveable servant, Peggotty, in quiet and amiable bliss.  When his mother decides to remarry to an irascible man named Murdstone, David's life begins an upheaval that catapults him through a variety of circumstances, both beneficial and tragic, each of his decisions mirroring his persistence, bravery, suffering and loyalty, working together to build a quiet character of strength and reliability.





The story is so vast it is impossible to write a summary that would do it justice so let's examine some of the wonderful characters that Dickens threads throughout the narrative:


Betsey Trotwood

by Phiz

(source Wikipedia)


Betsy Trotwood, David's aunt, appears to abandon him and his mother at the beginning of the story, yet when David needs her, she becomes a stabilizing force in his life and an excellent example with her dry wit and generous heart.


Peggotty & Barkis

by Sol Etyinge Jr. 1867

(source Victorian Web)


Peggotty, his nurse, sees David as her own and often assists him in his endeavours; a cherished substitute mother.



Daniel Peggotty

by Frank Reynolds 1910

(source Wikipedia)



Mr. Peggotty, her brother, shows unwavering devotion and heart-wrenching unconditional love to his niece, Emily, after her flight with David's nefarious schoolfriend, Steerforth, and her obvious ruin.



Wilkins Micawber

from 1912 edition

(source Wikipedia)


Mr. Micawber, a shady, bumbling fellow, appears like an odiferous fragrance throughout David's life, and while good intentioned, only causes trouble whenever he appears; however he ends up helping to bring about a positive resolution to a quite dire circumstance at the end of the book.


David falls for Dora

by Frank Reynolds (1910)

(source Wikipedia)


Even Dickens' other female characters were likeable.  In many of his novels he recurrently treats the feminine nature as sacchrine, helpless and perfect.  It can get very annoying.  Yet while Dora is all of these things, somehow Dickens makes her real; this time the characterization is for a purpose and works well within the story.  I loved Dora, as well.






Dickens appears to emphasis the idea of constancy and the value of tradition.  Copperfield's childhood home is revisited at a few points in the novel, and his aunt Trotwood, while losing her home when her money is treacherously stolen, regains it again at the conclusion of the story.  Loyalty to his friends is paramount for David, and he ensures he maintains lasting relationships with most of them throughout his lifetime.  He sees good in everyone, from his child-wife who is clinging and rather dim, to his admired school chum who, while he plummets in David's esteem after seducing Emily, is still regarded with compassion by David.  There is a lasting emphasis on family, familiar houses from his past and the desire to remain close to the people, place and things that have made him who he is.


The River by Phiz

(source Victorian Web)



David's Aunt Trotwood wisely states: "We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to frighten us, my dear.  We must learn to act the play out.  We must live misfortune down, Trot!" and throughout the book her words are played out in David's actions as he perseveres through misfortune, scandal and tragedy to become a devoted husband, a friend of whom anyone would be proud, and a successful writer in his own right.


Claimed to be autobiographical in nature, the novel was clearly dear to Dickens, his words reflecting his affection for it:  " …. like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child.  And his name is David Copperfield."  A truly wonderful read!





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review 2013-12-23 16:19
You Know You Want To
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (aut... A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (author) Tim Curry (performer)

Disclaimer: This was offered free for Audible members.


                I suppose if I really wanted, I could write an essay length review about how great yet unrated this Dickens novella is.  It is most likely Dickens best known work, and he hated it.  Yet, there is very much here besides embracing the spirit of the season. 

                However, let’s cut straight to the point, okay?



    Why don’t you want to listen to Rocky Horror perform a Christmas Carol?


      See, I couldn’t think of a reason either.



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