Book Review: The Battle of Life

The Battle of Life by Charles Dickens
The Battle of Life 
by Charles Dickens

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Grace and Marion are sisters, saying goodbye to their childhood friend, Alfred, who has just come of age after growing up as a ward to the girls’ father, Dr. Jeddler. Alfred promises to come back someday to marry Marion when he has finished medical school and made his fortune. The years pass, but their happy plans take a sorrowful turn, and it will take all their courage to survive the battle of life.
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Classic Review: Martin Chuzzlewit

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
Martin Chuzzlewit 
by Charles Dickens

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Old Martin Chuzzlewit is disgusted with his greedy relatives who only want his money, so he disinherits everyone, including his grandson, Young Martin, who is named after him. Young Martin falls in love with an orphaned ward, Mary Graham, who acts as Old Martin’s nursemaid. But the two young people are torn apart when the family quarrel causes Young Martin to seek his fortune out in the world.

When he goes to work for a hypocritical architect, Mr. Pecksniff, Young Martin befriends poor Tom Pinch, a lowly clerk with a good and innocent heart. Because of his generosity and humility, Tom is always being taken advantage of and overlooked.

Mr. Pecksniff and his two daughters renew their relationship with their cousin, Jonas Chuzzlewit, a devious man who longs to inherit the family business and be rid of his doddering old father.

This book includes blackmail, murder, hidden identities, and fraud, as well as two sweet romances, hilarious characters, and a compelling redemption story. Continue reading

Classic Book Review: Barnaby Rudge

Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens
Barnaby Rudge 
by Charles Dickens

2 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

This the story of a half-wit, Barnaby, and how he was tricked into joining the Gordon Riots in London. Barnaby’s poor mother has a terrible secret and a dark past that haunts her. Other characters include gruff Mr. Willet, the village innkeeper, and his son, Joe, who is in love with the locksmith’s daughter, Dolly. At the same time, delicate Miss Haredale is involved in a forbidden courtship with the son of her uncle’s sworn enemy, and the star-crossed lovers ask Barnaby to pass messages and notes for them. The disgruntled apprentice, Simon Tappertit, and the unsavory stableboy, Hugh, are instrumental in inciting the London riots, along with a hangman named Dennis who conceals his true profession from his companions in the riots.

I hated this story so much. I could barely force myself to read to the end. Usually I LOVE Dickens, but this book has so many problems.

First of all, the riots themselves were first boring, then awful and disturbing. I got so bored with all the plotting and secrets from various bad guys throughout the first half of the book, and then I was disgusted with all the atrocities committed by the rioters in the second half. Ugh. Not enjoyable to read.
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Book Review: Our Mutual Friend

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
Our Mutual Friend 
by Charles DickensMarcus Stone (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Old Harmon is dead, and his will stipulates that if his son, John, wants to inherit his vast fortune, then John must marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful girl from a poor family. John travels back to England, and dons a disguise so that he can observe Bella before making up his mind. But when a body is found floating in the river, everyone assumes that it is John Harmon, and John takes on a new identity and a new occupation.
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Book Review: Master Humphrey’s Clock

Master Humphrey's Clock by Charles Dickens
Master Humphrey’s Clock 
by Charles Dickens

3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

A collection of stories from a fictitious club of writers, including the hilarious Mr. Pickwick, who share various anecdotes and short stories amongst the members of the club. These lead into the serialized novels of “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” and “Barnaby Rudge”, serving as an introduction for fictional narrators of those stories.
Some of the anecdotes are creepy and ghostly, some are funny, some are historical. Some have tragic romance, or supernatural witches. Some are just lively tales of everyday life.

They are all certainly interesting and varied, but so disconnected and strangely unfinished that I couldn’t really enjoy them.
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