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The Big ReadA Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Penguin Classics

Published : 2003, 1859

Copyright : Penguin Classics 2003

ISBN-10 : PB 0-14-143960-2
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-14-143960-0

Publisher's Write-Up

After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

About the Author:
Charles Dickens (1812-70) was a political reporter and journalist whose popularity was established by the phenomenally successful Pickwick Papers (1836-7). His novels captured and held the public imagination over a period of more than thirty years. Richard Maxwell teaches in the Comparative Literature & English departments at Yale.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Shannon (091010) Rating (9/10)

Review by Shannon
Rating 9/10
The swift cut of the guillotine, the sound of the death carts, these are both things that Dickens captures in his amazing tale of the French Revolution.

Woven into the deadly scene are unforgettable characters; Lucie Manette, who is completely devoted to the father she grew up without; Charles Darnay, the heir to a French marquis; Sydney Carton, a troubled man who thinks little of his own life, and gives it for the love of a girl he could never be with; Madame Defarge, quietly orchestrating the death of all aristocrats; and Dr. Manette, a prisoner of Bastille on no charges for years, but eventually ‘recalled to life’.

Lucie and Charles’ love seems to have been doomed from the start. He just barely escaped the fate of a traitor thanks to testimonies given by Lucie and her father. Also, he is a descent of the royal French family who kept Dr. Manette imprisoned without a trial. In fact, Dr. Manette is aware of this fact, and instead of hating Charles because of his family, happily acquires him as a son-in-law.

Sydney Carton, Darnay’s look-a-like, finds that he is in love with Lucie, yet unable to believe that he deserves her affection. When Darnay is captured in France after being discovered to be an aristocrat, and sentenced to death, Carton comes to the rescue. He willingly ends his life so that the girl he loves can spend hers with the man that she loves.

Madame Defarge, knitting her patterns of death seems to embody the power of a determined woman. It’s safe to say that she wears the pants in her marriage to Monsieur Defarge. It is she who pushes for Lucie Manette, her father and her daughter to be arrested. Is it she who retries Charles Darnay after he is set free. She will stop at nothing to avenge the death of her sister and brother, who Darnay’s family killed. Coincidently, or perhaps not so, Dr. Manette was the doctor that the Evremondes called in to attend to the siblings while they were dying.

Over all, I would highly recommend that you read this book. It tells the story of a time when nobody was safe, and everybody knew that it could be their head on the guillotine tomorrow. It tells of how even in the darkest and most fearful times, there are still good people that strive towards a peaceful time. And finally, it tells of how love always prevails.
Shannon (9th October 2010)

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