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 2019-01-21 11:39
3/5: Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit - Charles Dickens

Returning from a long trip in India, Arthur Clennam finds his pious mother as unfeeling and callous as when he left her. Seeking to balance her selfishness with acts of charity, he notices that his mother takes an out-of-character interest in a maid: Amy Dorrit. Arthur decides to get to know the Dorrits and their sad history better…

About a third of the way through this, I was curious as to how Dickens was going to keep me interested. The story of the Dorrits didn’t seem enough to keep the thing going for eight hundred pages, and I was beginning to lose interest. He seemed to have felt the same thing, and introduces a whole raft of intertwining subplots. In fact, in some places, the subplots are the plot. For the first half of the book, the Dorrits rot in Marshalsea debtor’s prison while these subplots mostly run the show.

(A historical aside: Dicken’s father was put in Marshalsea when Charlie was twelve)

The second part of the story is where these plots start to come together. The Dorrits are released with much fanfare and a small fortune, and re-invent themselves by denying their past. Arthur is estranged from them and investigates a strange Frenchman hanging round his mother’s home, which brings about the final, amazingly convoluted twist to the story.

The whole theme of the novel is one deception and lies and even self-deception. Arthur revisits his old girlfriend, and discovers she’s become fat (and therefore unattractive!) and fatuous. Deciding to throw in the towel in the love department, Arthur hardens his heart to falling in love again. Which he promptly does with his friend’s daughter, then spends a few chapters agonisingly denying it to himself when she falls for someone else. Dorrit senior lies to himself and resists acknowledging that’s he’s come from a debtor’s prison when he’s released. And even when he was there, he relished being “Father of the prison” and people giving him money as though he were important. Casby, supposedly a genial and friendly guy, is a money grubbing fraud, and his agent, Pancks, turns out to be a decent and honest man. Flora, Arthur’s old girlfriend (she cannot take a breath when she talks!), turns out to be compassionate and friendly. Merdle, a man whose investments cannot go wrong, is a financial fraudster.

The more obvious villains, such as they are, are intense and sociopathic. Miss Wade, who casts any act of kindness as manipulation and replies with malice. Rigaud, who kills a dog merely because it threatened to bite him and sneers and sings and clicks his fingers through the story. Added to this is Arthur’s mother, a wooden ruler of a woman, upright and rigid, unfeeling and unbending.

They’re a nasty bunch, but are they any worse than the Meagles, whose spoilt daughter abuses their maid? The Meagles who won’t call the maid by her name, and only tell her to count ten when she’s angry, rather than listen to her? Are they worse than Dorrit’s eldest daughter, who marries a man solely to annoy his mother?

Woven into the story is a long diatribe at British efficiency: The Circumlocution Office. Any progress in England must be passed through this engine of uselessness. To quote Douglas Adams, things are “signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters.” Thank goodness our governments are so more efficient these days, or where would we be? Even here, the lie that this department is necessary is believed by all to be the truth.

At the back of all this drama and deceit there stands a small figure: Little Dorrit. Alone in the Dorrit household, she remains as untouched by the sudden wealth they acquire as she was untouched by their Marshelsea debts. Tireless and selfless, she works to bring her father food, to find a job for her spoilt sister and wastrel of a brother. She does not complain, she does not falter. She is one of the toughest characters ever to have graced the pages of a book.

And since this is a Victorian novel, her reward for this is to marry Arthur. For what else would a woman want or need?

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2019-01-01 07:28
24 Festive Tasks: Books Read
Reflex - Dick Francis,Simon Prebble
Persons of Interest - Gildart Jackson,Peter Grainger
A Grave Matter - Anna Lee Huber
Lane: A Case For Willows And Lane, Book 1 - Peter Grainger,Henrietta Meire
A Christmas Carol - Simon Prebble,Charles Dickens
The Man with the Sack - Margery Allingham,David Thorpe,Soundings
Trojan Gold: The Fourth Vicky Bliss Mystery - Elizabeth Peters,Barbara Rosenblat
Cherringham - A Cosy Crime Series Compilation: Cherringham 4-6 - Neil Richards,Matthew Costello,Neil Dudgeon
The Hanging Tree - Ben Aaronovitch

 

One of my New Year's resolutions is to get my shelves updated. I'm going to make an effort to do a better job than I have been doing the past 6-8 months.

 

So... I did listen to about 4-5 audiobooks in both November and December, and all but one of those titles will fit the book tasks for this year's 24 Tasks of the Festive Season. I'll try to put up brief reviews this coming week - I was out of commission with the flu and then back issues for over two weeks in December - but for now I'm just going to match up my books/reads with the various holidays.

 

 

Melbourne Cup Day: Book About Horses - Reflex by Dick Francis

 

Advent: Fourth Book in a Series - Persons of Interest by Peter Grainger

 

St Andrew's Day: Book Set In Scotland - A Grave Matter by Anna Lee Huber

 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Book with a Strong Woman Character

     Lane by Peter Grainger

 

Christmas: Book About Christmas - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

 

Yule and Solstice: Book Set In December - The Man With the Sack by Margery

     Allingham

 

Dia De Los Muertos: Reread an Old Favorite by a Deceased Author - Trojan Gold by

     Elizabeth Peters

 

 Russian Mother's Day: Book Where a Key Character is a Mother - Charringham 4-6

    by Neil Richards and Matthew Costello

 

Guy Fawkes Night: Book Set in the UK: The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE HERE ON BL!

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-01-01 02:26
A Christmas Carol (Audiobook)
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens,Sergio Gutierrez,T. C. Boyle,Simon Prebble

Yay! I finally finished a Dickens book! Helps that it was short and one that I'm well familiar with thanks to Mickey Mouse and Xena. :D He's still a little long-winded but being restricted by a short story certainly helped the rambling. The Disney animated classic is quite accurate adaptation, but I still like Xena's more. :D

 

What's your favorite retelling of A Christmas Carol?

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-26 00:11
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
A Christmas Carol (Audible Audio) - Charles Dickens,Tim Curry

 

Book: Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-25 21:38
Reading progress update: I've read 45%.
A Christmas Carol (Audible Audio) - Charles Dickens,Tim Curry
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?