These Penguin Classics editions are so much more than the stories we are all familiar with.
Firstly, they all come with an extensive introduction, placing the novel in context and giving enough of the background to be interesting, without becoming tediously long.
Second there are extensive notes on the text, again helping to bring out more meat.
Finally, there is the text itself:
Many classic novels, including many Dickens, we're originally released in significantly different versions to those generally available today. What we see lining the shelves of libraries and discount bookstores are frequently edited versions put together either without the consent of the author, or even after their death. And this is where these books really excel.
They are all much earlier versions, some taken from original periodical publication, while others have actually been compared to original manuscripts! Many contain information and crucial story points that were subsequently watered down or removed entirely. At points, it can feel like you're reading a whole new novel.
Significantly though, not all are what Dickens would have considered 'final' versions. Oliver Twist, for instance, contains numerous racial slights regarding Fagin that Dickens himself changed or toned down after complaints, while his famous opening piece about the town for which he would 'assign no fictitious name' replaced the much shorter comment that the town was called 'Mudfog'!
And this is the beauty of these books. Such things are explained simply and you gain a real insight into the workings of the author's mind without feeling lectured to.
I got these because I enjoyed reading the books and would heartily recommend these fantastic editions to anyone who actually wants to read these for pleasure as well as for learning. And the five book set offered fantastic value for money, even though I already had one of them!