Haneen Reads

Just some book reviews

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities


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Date Read Jan 18, 2023


ISBN 9780679729655

Pages 380

This is a classic tale of redemption set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. This is my fifth Dickens, and his masterful and witty writing style is ever so present in the Tale of Two Cities. I must admit that although I enjoyed reading this novel, it had some major issues for me.

First of all, I think Dickens wanted to write about the French Revolution in a way that readers can feel empathetic toward the main characters. But then he sort of sacrificed his characters for the plot, and then the plot had a very simplified version of the French Revolution, and the rest was a bit too convenient and too moralistic for my taste. Many of the characters were thrown in as caricatures of a moral point he was trying to make, or rather shove down my throat.

I could talk about the “clever” duality he uses in the language and the characters and the plot and the places…etc. But I’m not an English teacher, and to be honest, it felt clever at first, and then he sort of overdid it so it lost its value to me. That said, of course, Dickens is a wonderful and witty writer with clever passages all over his books, but I can’t help but feel he could have done so much more with this idea.

And then, we come to Lucie, one of the main characters sort of caught in a love triangle of look-alikes, I mean at this point I should be used to female characters being portrayed by Dickens as either the sweetest of angels or as the villainous of daemons. But my god she was extremely annoying, and I couldn’t even understand how the plot was hanging by her non-existent character.

Finally, we come to the French Revolution breaking out in Paris, how our characters get caught up in it, and the ultimate “sacrifice”, which in my opinion was really weak, and wasn’t really a shock or a surprise. I mean it was right there at the very beginning, he literally said it!

All in all, an enjoyable read, but if you want to read a better novel about the French Revolution, you can’t go wrong with Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Keeping in mind, that novel also has awful female characters but does a much better job with capturing the overall feel of what the revolution was like.