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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comments on this version
I agree with other readers that 'A Tale of Two Cities' is a bit of a slog, but the plot is incredible and worth the effort. This inexpensive Wordsworth Classics edition kindly warns the reader not to read the introduction so as not to ruin the book's surprises; I appreciated this advice because I indeed did not know anything about the plot (I rarely read the academic...
Published on 30 Oct 2009 by D. Dalton

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Its a good book but it was a bit harder than I thought for my daughter. She is 11 and I wanted her to read dickens.
Published 4 months ago by nettyall


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comments on this version, 30 Oct 2009
By 
D. Dalton (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
I agree with other readers that 'A Tale of Two Cities' is a bit of a slog, but the plot is incredible and worth the effort. This inexpensive Wordsworth Classics edition kindly warns the reader not to read the introduction so as not to ruin the book's surprises; I appreciated this advice because I indeed did not know anything about the plot (I rarely read the academic intros to books for this very reason). However, one of the end notes gave away the big surprise of the plot about 2/3 through the book! Also, the end notes have incorrect page numbers. Overall I'd say skip the notes and use Google or Wikipedia to look up anything that you find overly confusing (I looked up several historical points to help me understand the bigger picture of the Revolution since I knew very little--I think Dickens understandably expected that his readers would have a certain amount of knowledge of those relatively recent events). I can't wholeheartedly recommend this version beyond the price.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a magnificent tale of human suffering and redemption, 1 July 2009
By 
LittleMoon (loving my life in the rain) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
"...the picturesque confusion of houses and the cathedral shone bright in the light of the moon, the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out of the sky."

I have been a fan of Dickens ever since the opening two paragraphs of Bleak House threw me into the Megalosaurus-inhabited foggy streets of London. To read any Dickens work is to be placed into the hands of one of the English language's masters; he is an unsurpassed genius of the sentence; a craftsman; a wordsmith and an artist. He is also, particularly in this work, a storyteller.

A Tale of Two Cities, in Dickens' own words, is "[T]he best story I have written" and is undoubtedly one of his most moving, exciting and memorable works. It builds with slow burning intensity, introducing us to the richly imagined characters who are to shape, and be shaped, by events far bigger, and with a greater sense of history, then they could ever imagine. Individual lives in London and Paris, are brought together with an inexorable sense of destiny, to one of literature's greatest finales, that is played out on the bloody streets of Paris, under the shadow of the guillotine.

Dickens' tale is filled with tragedy and despair, desperation and horror, but against this are pitted the greatest of human characteristics: loyalty, compassion, love and self-sacrifice. A Tale of Two Cities is responsible for some of the finest opening and closing lines in English literature, some of its most memorable characters, and an ending of such poignant intensity that even the hardest of hearts will weep.

[I always recommend Wordsworth Classics for the lay reader: cheap, unabridged, with accessible introductions, a glossary of the most important historical references, and this edition has the added bonus of wonderful illustrations by Phiz]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most fascinating and emotionally charged books I have ever read, 27 Dec 2013
By 
subject2status (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
As is probably true of most people, I am familiar with Dickens' work and have seen countless of his books dramatised on TV and in films. However, to my shame I have only ever read one of his books and this is the one.

I originally picked this up as a beautifully bound small hardback at a second hand bookshop and read it from cover to cover straight away.

It is one of the most fascinating and emotionally charged books I have ever read and like others of the reviewers here it's had a long lasting impact on me. The imagery (like a time capsule) and characterisation (eg. Madame Defarge) is masterful and the story as intriguing and tense as any of the best modern writing.

The ending leaves a vacuum that I've rarely felt (and interestingly, for those of you who've seen it, I had that feeling again at the end of Season 4 of Dexter).

Read this, and weep...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just lovin' it, 24 Sep 2011
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This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Yes, I never thought I would say it but I love this book. I knew the opening lines but not much more but it is a great read and you really appreciate the genius of the writer and want to read some more. What more can I say.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Captured the epoch and asked questions about it that are still relevant today, 21 Oct 2014
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
This is a famous story. I read an abridged version of it when I was a child for school work. After decades, all that I could remember from that endeavour was the last sentence of the book, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known." Only when I read the novel for the first time in its original form, and three decades has past, do I realise how little I understood the story then. The richness of the story, and the questions it is asking about this particular epoch are arguably beyond young children to appreciate.

There are at least two layers of this story: the personal story of the characters and the historical record of the period, with both of which inevitably intertwined. Setting a novel in a historical background is not easy. It takes a deep knowledge of the period to be able to describe it authentically and to conjure up a story. Dickens had the advantage of recording a period which was not too far into the distant past when compared to his own, and would have been living memory among his older contemporaries.

Dickens was graphic with the brutality of the period in France, which was a necessity to capture the realistic backdrop of the time. But he did it classily from the literal point of view. I wish we all had such eloquent speech to describe the ugliest side of human. Will that go some way in dampening the abomination of our wickedness? We may be a little squeamish when we read those descriptions. But what is most disturbing perhaps is in admitting that in time of desperation, discontent, age-long injustice and oppression, these were nothing but the faces of human rage and revenge. The age that had preceded the revolution was not right, as expressed in Charles Darney's renunciation of his title and property in France, and in his emigration to Britain to live on his own industry. But turning the table and applying the same measures to their previous enemies did not mean justice, nor make things right. What revenge did was only to prolong and extend human tragedies which surprisingly gave no rest to the soul. Look at Madam Defarge, was she satisfied when Charles Evremonde was denounced and faced a death sentence within 24 hours? No. She was scheming to take down the last of Evremonde even if she was only a child. When her husband could not agree, she retorted, "Tell the Wind and the Fire where to stop; not me!" (p.292) Vengeance was like a fire carried by the wind which could only be fanned and never know where to stop.

Dickens also brought out the madness of the time in juxtaposition: in the soundest mind and madness of Dr Manette, the chaos and horror of Paris versus the peace and tranquility of Manette's residence in Soho, a town gone mad with rage and unquenched bloodthirstiness walked and served by the composed physician Dr Manette, and the devilish and heartless Madam Defarge encountered by the compassionate Carton prepared to lay down his life for his love and by the faithful and loving Miss Pross. Nothing makes sense and the land was groaning in taunt, pain and suffering. "There was no pause, no pity, no peace, no interval of relenting rest, no measurement of time... Hold of it was lost in the raging fever of a nation .... And yet, observing the strange law of contradiction which obtains in all such cases, the time was long, while it flamed by so fast. A revolutionary tribunal in the capital, and forty or fifty thousand revolutionary committees all over the land; a law of the Suspected, which struck away all security for liberty or life, and delivered over any good and innocent person to any bad and guilty one; prisons gorged with people who had committed no offence, and could obatin no hearing; these things became the established order and nature of appointed things, and seemed to be ancient usage before they were many weeks old. Above all, one hideous figure grew as familiar as if it had been before the general gaze from the foundation of the world - the figure of the sharp female called La Guillotine." (p. 233) "It was the sign of the regeneration of the human race. It superseded the Cross. Models of it were worn on breasts from which the Cross was discarded, and it was bowed down to and beleived in where the Cross was denied." (p. 234) "Before that unjust Tribunal, there was little or no order of procedure, ensuring to any accused person any reasonable hearing. There could have been no such Revolution, if all laws, forms and ceremonies had not first been so monstrously abused, that the suicidal vengeance of the Revolution was to scatter them all to the winds." (p. 270)

People wore models of the Guillotine on their breasts instead of the Cross? No wonder how the city was stained red and yet people still craved for more. I think Dickens had identified the root of the madness of the people, and prompted us to see the wisdom of forgiveness as embodied in the Cross, and of the Word that "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." (Romans 12:19) The wisdom of this was brought out skilfully with the irony in Dr Manette's life. He had been unjustly imprisoned for 16 years. Before he lost his sanity, he wrote his letter of accusation, when he did not know that his denunciation would, in years later and after some unexpected turn of events, fall on his son-in-law. When he realised that he played a part in condemning his son-in-law to a death sentence, he must have regretted his action then, which however felt so just at the time when he wrote the letter. He lost his sanity once more after the verdict.

No wonder the French Revolution has become a warning to countries of how not to conduct a revolution; and how people rejoice over the achievement of a bloodless or velvet revolution if they are so fortunate as to experience one. And in history, it has indeed been achieved at different times and in different countries.

In terms of the characters, Charles Darney was somewhat insipid, while the misery of Sydney Carton was a little melodramatic. I did not sympathise with him totally as the book did not show me that he had tried but failed in life. However what he did in the end of course was very noble, while it might be a release for him from his unhappy life. Dr Manette might well be the most interesting character for me. Finally the book is slow starting! I was constantly lost in the first two chapters as to who were who and doing what. It wasn't exactly in plain English - oh no! But after that, the book picked up and when reaches book III, one may just want to race to the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of Two Cities, 27 July 2013
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
I am writing this review after my second reading of this wonderful book.

The first time I read it was over 10 years ago and I have to confess that it did not make much impression on me. This time, however, it has entertained and moved me more than I can say.

The plotting is tight and for a Dickens novel, it is relatively short; every chapter and word seem to matter. Like most Dickens novel, it is peopled by memorable characters who seem to leap out of the page. The most memorable character for me (among many) was the hero Sidney Carton who is a wonderfully Byronic creation. He is seen as an attractive, brilliant, dissolute and full of sell loathing. The source of this self loathing is not really explained. The tale ends with him selflessly substituting for his friend (and possible love rival for the lovely Lucy Manette) during the Terror following the French Revolution leading to his execution by guillotine. The account of his via dolorosa is so moving that I found myself in tears reading it.

Dickens' writing style is wonderfully rich and full of rhetorical flourishes. It begs to be read aloud by a good actor.

I cannot express how much I have enjoyed reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most powerful endings of any book, 14 Feb 2012
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
A book about the lead up to the French Revolution, and its consequences, A Tale Of Two Cities is a Dickens novel that dispenses with embroidered language and concentrates on action and the delivery of a strong moral message. The French aristocrats are portrayed as sneering and evil (with exceptions) and treat the poor as scarcely human. However, once the Revolution occurs the masses prove to be just as evil in their own way. The novel concentrates on a handful of key characters, all of whom are interlinked by marriage, friendship, or servitude. Key to the book is the fate of Charles Darnay, a young French aristocrat who moved to England well before the Revolution, anglicised his name, renounced his title, and earned his living honestly as a teacher. He is married to the only daughter of a French doctor who spent 18 years locked in the Bastille without charge - a victim of the old aristocratic regime. Darnay's life is placed in deep peril when he rushes to France to come to the aid of a former servant who has been thrown in prison. Despite Darnay's condemnation of the old regime he is nevertheless viewed as part of it. Can he possibly be saved by the ingenuity of a dissolute but keenly intelligent English barrister whose help some years back secured Darnay's release from an English court (and certain death) on a trumped up charge of spying for the French? I won't spoil the plot, but the ending of the book is one of the most powerful, memorable and moving pieces of writing I have ever come across.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depth required to set up brilliant ending, 11 April 2008
This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
A few reviews here have said the majority of the book is needlessly detailled and long and drawn out. I whole heartedly disagree with them.

Yes, the first two thirds of the book are detailled and cover the events and characters thoroughly but this is essential in setting up the magnificent finale. Without the in-depth back story, the ending would lose all of its power. Granted, while reading this detail you do not realise it is so important (hence maybe the feelings of indifference towards this part of the book) but without it you would not be so invested in the characters. You would not care about what happens to them and would not understand why the events of the past impact so heavily on what is happening to them. I'm not saying I did not require patience to get to the end, i did, but it was thoroughly worth it, and Dickens masterful writing keeps you engaged all the way through, especially in his description of the condition of France during the Revolution, which was a real eye-opener.

This was the first Dickens book I had read and will most definitely be reading every other novel he wrote! Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book has everything, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
It was the best of reads, it was the worst of read, it was a book of wisdom, it was a book of foolishness, it was the work of belief, it was the work of incredulity, it was the novel of Light, it was the novel of Darkness, it was my spring of hope, it was my winter of despair, I saw everything before me, I had nothing before me, it made me feel I was going direct to Heaven, it made me feel that I was going direct the other way – in short, the story was so far like the present story, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
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A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics)
A Tale of Two Cities (Wordsworth Classics) by Charles Dickens (Paperback - 1999)
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