The neccessity of the Higher English "Specialist Study" caused me to be drawn to this novel. I could not have hoped for better material.
Underrated and almost forgotten, I had no pre-conceived ideas about "Barnaby Rudge", and was therefore pleasently surprised by how enjoyable I found it. The mentally impared title character is a charming one - the very personification of the purity Dickens attempted to capture in many of his novles. The plot, inspired by the Gordon riots of 1780, is a patchwork of inter-twining and enthralling adventures, sufficiently mysterious so as to both confound and delight the reader. The formidible stock of characters are all delightfully and vividly brought to life, and one cannot help but share in their joy and pain - I for one found myself cheering, weeping and smiling rediculously in the course of the book.
If there is one annoyance it is the lack of a substantial villian - in this novel, Dickens presents not one or two wholly evil creatures, but instead a handful of "baddies", each causing turmoil in their own way. Although all are thourghly detestably, none command the raw hatred felt for some of Dickens's more famous bad guys, such as Bill Sikes or Uriah Heep.
Nonetheless, "Barnaby Rudge" is still a brilliantly conceived novel and, flowing as it does from the pen of the master story-teller, cannot help but captivate the reader.