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A Tale of Two Cities

May 30, 2018
tale of two cities book cover
Genre:
Page Count: 489
'Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; — the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!' After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of 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 roads of…

A masterpiece of literature. One of the greatest books of the English language. A beautiful tale of love, loss, tragedy, hopelessness, cruelty, and ultimately of redemption. Its characters are larger than life and unforgettable. Doctor Manette, Lucie, Pross, Madame Defarge, Cruncher, and of course, the unforgettable Sydney Carton. I found the ending deeply moving, a bittersweet ode to the human condition in which evil so often begets evil and yet good rises above all when least expected.

The prose is staggeringly brilliant and I mean that in both senses of the word. At times a poor reader such as myself was forced to stagger under the weight of Dickens’ achingly profound sentences. It felt a bit like reading 500 pages of poetry at times. Early on it was tough going as the plot seemed non-existent. In fact it seemed more like a series of disjointed vignettes than a coherent story. But stay with it if you flounder because it was the weaving together of all these disparate elements which made the ending so much more satisfying. In particular, I was riveted by the reading of Manette’s letter.

If the ending had not been so marvelous I might have given this book only 4 stars despite the masterful writing for it was a tough read at times, but the ending is so good it made me want to go back and re-read the story again.

Truly one of the all time great stories.

One Comment

  • Timothy T Lumsdaine March 27, 2019 at 11:46 am

    I could not agree more completely. I remember well being utterly confused by the plot and getting stuck in long, complex sentences full of unfamiliar language. In the end though, I found myself completely in love with the story and the masterful way it was set up. The last few chapters are unrivaled in literary brilliance and metaphorical beauty.

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