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text 2017-06-09 11:47
9th June 2017
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens,Jeremy Tambling

And O there are days in this life, worth life and worth death.


Charles Dickens


June 9, 1865: Charles Dickens was in a train derailment in England, 152 years ago today. He climbed out a window and saved the manuscript of Our Mutual Friend, but didn't leave the scene until he'd brought the victims water from a nearby river, which he ferried in his top hat.


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review 2017-05-29 10:13
1/5: Martin Chuzzlewit
Martin Chuzzlewit - Charles Dickens,Patricia Ingham

A story of the extended and generally mean and selfish Chuzzlewit family.

According to my reading history, it took me nine months to read this. That’s not quite representative – I did put it on hold for a while and also read two books in between – but it’s an illustration of what’s wrong with this monster. For a comparison, this is about seven hundred pages; I read War and Peace at over a thousand pages in just over a month.

So where did it go wrong?

This was Dicken’s sixth book, and he was obviously very off his game at this point. There’s no coherent plot, or through line (Except the general selfishness of most of the characters). The padding is immense and never-ending. Seriously: He spent almost an entire chapter describing a boarding house / inn. This boarding house appears for a chapter more or so, then we’re on to something else. It’s wonderful descriptive writing, but it doesn’t move the story on one jot.

The novel was written as a serial for publication, and when Dickens decided that the story wasn’t working, he wasn’t above ditching it and shifting to a new one. So, we start with the death of an aged relative, move on to the Pecksniff family, then on to something else. Then…Boom! A character decides he’s off to America! When I read that, coming from absolutely nowhere, I knew this book was in trouble. It’s also very obvious when Dickens wasn’t up to his word count and spent pages describing a London market, or a forest. He’s never one to use one word when a dozen will do.

Mostly, it’s forgivable because you know his characters are so grand and well-drawn, but not here.

Plot after plot is thrown at this thing in a desperate attempt to save it, and nothing works. The American adventures are padded to the point of insanity; there’s (again) almost a whole chapter describing a town-hall meeting, where an American foists a letter upon our character. But not to worry, since the letter isn’t important and is never featured again.

By the time the climax (such as it is) begins to roll around and the bad guys get their justice, I’d lost interest in being able to tell the characters apart. Someone is murdered in a forest, and I really couldn’t tell you why beyond the idea there was some sort of scam going on. Someone nearly dies and then doesn’t, for no point whatsoever.

I checked the summary of the plot on Wikipedia, and it says a character conned another out of a pocket watch at one point. I have no memory of this event having taken place at all, in a book I just read.

There are a few chapters which work. Tom Pinch and his sister have a few memorable scenes of domestic bliss. Mrs Gamp and her umbrella were apparently so popular (Or there was a genius at the marketing department) that a Gamp became a byword for an umbrella. But she adds little to the story beyond a social commentary on Victorian healthcare. Everyone else is utterly forgettable.

It’s. A. Mess.

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review 2017-01-27 10:33
Powerful historical fantasy
Drood - Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons book DROOD is a masterpiece of sorcerous historical fiction. The sorcery doesn't lie in some otherworldly supernatural changes to history, but instead lies in the astonishing historical verisimilitude that Simmons brings to his portrayal of Victorian society, Charles Dickens and his milieu. Simmons helps us to smell, taste, and live in the often-crumbling and often-opium infused reality of that society, and to understand the complexities of the relationships around Dickens.


What's fascinating to me is that Simmons hardly ever has to bring in anything supernatural in order to make a book spooky, otherworldly and astonishing. Instead, he simply tells one version of Dicken's life, and the clarity he brings to that observance of a life is powerful. 


I found the book enthralling: one of Simmons best works. 

Source: nednote.com
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review 2017-01-04 02:48
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Audiobook)
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens,Simon Vance

Narrated by Simon Vance


If I were just rating this book based on high school memory, it would probably be four or five stars, but I found that this audio version didn’t always hold my attention. I’ll have to reread it in print at some point or maybe just re-listen to the audiobook because I remember this being a good story. It was still a decent story but I felt like I missed stuff.

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text 2017-01-02 12:05
2016 – the Best of the Best and the Worst of the Worst
Edie: American Girl - Jean Stein,George Plimpton
Metro 2034 - Dmitry Glukhovsky
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley,Maurice Hindle
Jaws - Peter Benchley
The Catcher in the Rye - Jerome David Salinger
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
The Man-Eaters of Tsavo - John Henry Patterson,Peter Hathaway Capstick

With the old year gone and the new one just two days old, it is time for a quick retrospective on what was great and what wasn’t.


Let’s start with the Best of the Best!

My favourite book of 2016 was probably Edie, the amazing biography of Edie Sedgwick. Not only was it exciting to read about her short but intense life, but it was also a great experiment in terms of writing style and figuring out new possibilities within the genre of biography.

Another book, that was surprisingly good was The Man-Eaters of Tsavo. I initially started reading it, because I was curious about the book on which one of my all-time favourite movies is based on, but after a couple of pages I fell in love with it (despite all of its flaws).



and now the Worst of the Worst

The biggest letdowns of 2016  were two books I was unfortunately really looking forward to read.

The first one was Metro 2034 by Dmitrij Gluchovskij. This was such a huge disappointment for me, because the first book in the Metro series was really exciting with a lot of interesting characters, really good writing and a thrilling plot. Unfortunately, Metro 2034 had nothing of the things I loved about the first one.

The other letdown was Jaws. And what a letdown that was! This is a sentence you hardly ever hear me say, but seriously: Go and watch the movie! It is ten times better than the book.


Additionally, there are some honourable mentions, meaning books, I am happy to finally have read and which I therefore can happily cross off my bucket list. Those are:

The Catcher in the Rye (although this is definitely not one of my favourites), Frankenstein (which was really good) and A Christmas Carol (love it!)

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