A Tale of Two Cities is a stunningly beautiful read. Having only read Great Expectations years ago (so long ago I can’t remember it) I didn’t have any idea what to expect from Dickens. The edition I have is second-hand from the bookshop and I love the size, smell, text and look of it so I really wanted to like what was inside…
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.”
The book starts off with this classic quote. By the end of the first page I was already spell-bound.
‘Is it not boring because it’s old?’
No! Someone asked me this and they couldn’t have been more wrong. A Tale of Two Cities had me gasping from beginning to end (particularly the last few chapters). As more and more of the story is revealed you see things beginning to come together and connect. So. Damn. Clever.
‘Isn’t Dickens hard to read?’
Again something someone asked me. Initially, yes I had some trouble with understanding what was going on which is why I bought the Cliffs Notes: Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Once you get into the story however I found that I was only reading the Cliff Notes for the extra little nuggets of gold (like the times when it compares certain conversations to something that happened earlier in the book – things that you might not recognise). This book requires concentration to read, yes, but I think most books do. If you’re having trouble understanding it then do what I did. I read the Cliff Notes referring to the chapter I was about to read and then I read the chapter, then Cliff Notes, then chapter etc. Towards the end when I didn’t want the story spoiled before I had read it I switched around so I’d read the chapter and then the Cliff Notes referring to it.
This book was so enjoyable. I would recommend it to 15-150 year olds. Don’t be put off by the label ‘classic’. Just enjoy this book for what it is; a magnificent work of art that deserves to be read no matter what the year whether it’s 1859, 2014 or 3206.
See my other book reviews here.