Dickens's first, and most light-hearted, work. It's an episodic novel, originally published in monthly installments, about the adventures of Mr Pickwick, the wannabe-womaniser Mr Tupman, the poet Mr Snodgrass and Mr Winkle, who have all formed a club, the aim of which is simply to observe life. You can see the influence it had on much later works by the likes of P G Wodehouse, E F Benson etc. There are many funny scenes here, some involving broad slapstick, such as Mr Pickwick being dumped in a wheelbarrow in the village pond! There's even fore-runners of the bedroom farce, as in the episode when Mr Pickwick ends up, (purely by accident you understand), in the bedroom of a middle-aged lady at a hotel in Ipswich. Coming in and out of the story at intervals is the incorrigible chancer Mr Jingle, who makes a living trying to con money out of impressionable women. This also must be where the Dickensian image of Christmas first came from, with the Pickwickians going to spend a traditional Christmas at Dingley Dell. Dickens achieves the feat of creating a light-hearted comedy, which never descends into whimsy. It is a tale of stagecoaches (coming to the end of their natural life, as the railway was beginning to take off when Dickens wrote this), poor people living off oysters, with oyster-stalls along the streets (not then a rich man's delicacy), and vivid details of coaching inns and old London hostelries. It is an engaging tribute to the late Georgian era of Dickens's youth.