This is one of my favorite Dickens tales- it's also the last book he ever wrote.
I started reading Our Mutual Friend with some trepidation because I had previously found Dicken's slow going and it is a very long book. But I discovered that I must have changed as I found this book very enjoyable, and at times funny. I enjoyed the characters, plot twists and the perspective on class, society, wealth, poverty, virtue and values. If you are thinking about giving Dickens another try, I recommend this book.
Our Mutual Friend is one of my top five favorite novels and definitely my favorite Dickens novel. Very briefly, the main plot involves the murder of a young man coming home to claim his inheritance. There are several very complicated plots of around 800 pages and about 50 named characters to keep track of, but this novel is worth the effort. For one thing, it's absolutely and consistently hilarious. As a third person narrator, Dickens frequently interjects his own snarky commentary on whatever is going on in the story. Also, the characters show Dickens's characterization powers at their best. The people who populate this fictional London are perfectly balanced: bizarre enough to grab the readers' attention and come to life, but not so bizarre that they become unrealistic. Specifically, the character of Eugene Wrayburn is fantastic: very sarcastic and witty, if a tad exasperating. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to work out exactly what Dickens is talking about, but that is part of the fun. For example, there is one character named Twemlow, who is like a table: people see him, but no one really pays attention to him. Instead of telling us that Twemlow is like a table, Dickens describes him as a table, so it's not entirely clear at first whether we are reading about a person or a piece of furniture. I have recommended this book to four different people, and they have all loved it.
I was truly impressed with this wonderful book by Charles Dickens. On one level, it is the love story of two different couples, pulled apart my social mores and money. On a deeper level, this book is about social class struggle, pollution, honor, poverty, generosity, and deception. The layers and metaphors Dickens uses to create this novel is truly amazing. Loved it much more than I thought I would!
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