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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't doubt Dombey
I must disagree with comments made previously here about this being a dull book, for I found it enthralling and perfectly of its time. As has been said, the book is not so much about a man named Dombey and his son as it is about his daughter and her step-mother. The plot is quintessentially Dickensian. He is relentless in never letting relief come for more than a...
Published on 21 May 2008 by E Spicer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad Son
I thought the novel began commendably well. Perhaps Dickens' strongest suits are his eye for humour, especially in everyday human foibles and absurdities, partnered with a quick and penetrating perception of injustice - the first few hundred pages are replete with both.

I found though that after the central tragedy of the novel, a third of the way through, the...
Published 8 months ago by Woolco


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't doubt Dombey, 21 May 2008
I must disagree with comments made previously here about this being a dull book, for I found it enthralling and perfectly of its time. As has been said, the book is not so much about a man named Dombey and his son as it is about his daughter and her step-mother. The plot is quintessentially Dickensian. He is relentless in never letting relief come for more than a moment, and it is thrilling. His characters are never less than intriguing--from the small and waning Dombey clan to minor characters named wonderful things like Captain Cuttle, Miss Tox, Mr. Toots, and Mrs. Nipper. Within the tragic circumstances of a loveless but wealthy family, Dickens injects comical moments in which social climbers or other irritating company invade Dombey's inner sanctum. The emotional core consists not only of one's sympathy for Florence and Edith, but for the awful state of Paul Dombey, cold-man extraordinaire. It's just under 1,000 pages, and while I agree somewhat with the other reviewers in finding the first 100 or so not the most fluid of Dickens' prose, I was drawn in by practically every last page.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!, 10 Jun. 2011
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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Before I began reading Dickens in earnest (scarcely half a year ago I confess), I would have been hard pressed even to name 'Dombey and Son' as one of his novels. I am very content to be cured of my ignorance in that respect, because of all Dickens' novels that I have read so far (which is, as I'm reading them chronologically, The Pickwick Papers (Oxford World's Classics), Oliver Twist (Oxford World's Classics), Nicholas Nickleby (Oxford World's Classics), The Old Curiosity Shop (Oxford World's Classics), Barnaby Rudge (Oxford World's Classics) and Martin Chuzzlewit (Oxford World's Classics)), this is my personal favorite.

The reasons why are manifold. First of all, the theme of the book (a child neglected and unloved by his sole remaining parent) must surely strike a chord with anyone. We've all been children, and can recollect in hindsight that one of the most basic drives of any child is to be liked and feel loved by its parents. That such is not the case for Florence Dombey made me feel truly sorry for her and identify with her feelings all the more readily. True enough, perhaps she's a bit 'too good to be true' (after years of neglect, who would still love his father unconditionally as she does?) but Dickens paints her so lifelike that I never felt bothered by this.

Secondly, perhaps more so than in any other book I've read so far, Dickens demonstrates in 'Dombey and Son' his unequalled capacity to mix different moods: there's both heartfelt sorrow and true happiness, bitter hatred (between Paul Dombey and his second wife for instance) as well as hilarious humour. The humour there is comes primarily from some truly unforgettable characters: Captain Cuttle is a source of constant delight throughout the book, but so are Susan Nipper, Mr. Toots, Mrs. Skewton and Major Bagstock. To turn to the less cheerful characters, Paul Dombey is a masterful study of a man completely dominated by the demands of his time on how to behave, a man also with powerful feelings but unable to express them. His second wife Edith is probably one the most powerful female character Dickens ever portrayed.

Looking back upon the book now, I realize that a large part of its attraction lies in the happy ending 'against all odds', and one could surely argue that in real life this is not always the case. Probably not, but is it, then, better to read 'realistic' books all the better to learn to cope with life, or is it okay to read books with happy endings to lighten the burden of real life? I tend to be of the latter conviction, and therefore cannot but say that I immensely enjoyed this book, and will definitely reread it at some future point in time!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated, 30 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Dombey and Son (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Of the 14 novels Dickens completed in his lifetime, Dombey and Son is undoubtedly one of the least known; only Barnaby Rudge provides serious competition in this regard, it appears to me. It was popular with audiences of Dickens' own day, though. It was published in monthly instalments in 1846-1848, when Dickens popularity was very great, immediately following the success of the earlier Christmas books, including "A Christmas Carol".

Dombey and Son is more tightly plotted than its predecessors, for that reason it is often considered to mark the beginning of "late" Dickens, where thematic concerns became paramount. The Dombey of the title is a man of business, a very successful one, and the father of two children. One is a daughter, who is irrelevant to the business of Dombey and Son and thus irrelevant to Mr. Dombey, and the other is a son, Little Paul, who is expected to give material existence to the "Son" specified in the name of Mr. Dombey's business. However, Little Paul proves to be less of a chip off the old block than might have been hoped for, and baffles his father exceedingly when he asks him "What is money?" and follows his father's reply with "Yes, but what does it do?".

Further characters include the malevolent Mr. Carker, a consummate hypocrite who also displays some of the threatening sexuality of later Dickens characters like Bradley Headstone and John Jasper; Edith, a prototype for Lady Dedlock, and equally exaggerated; and Mr. Toots, who is madly, hopelessly and hilariously in love with Dombey's daughter Florence("'sof no consequence").
Ultimately, this book becomes more about Dombey's relationship with his daughter, whom he has continually neglected and spurned. Predictably for Dickens, Florence is of an improbably passive and meek disposition, literally unable to think badly of others, and quick to assume the blame in any given situation. Her insistence on blaming herself for her father's ill-treatment of her seems to me somewhat pathological but Dickens presents it merely as proof of her good nature.
This novel has most of the flaws and also the virtues that are typical of Dickens. It is not his best book, but the greater degree of planning that went into it compared to earlier novels means it never loses interest throughout the 800-odd pages. Those familiar with Dickens will be able to forgive the frequent sentimentalism and will enjoy the humour and pathos of the better passages. Dombey and Son is not the first Dickens book anyone should read, but it is a solid addition to his canon nonetheless.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Often Overlooked, 16 April 2012
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dombey and Son (Kindle Edition)
Personally I have always been a fan of this book, and it is a personal favourite of mine. For some reason this novel is often neglected, probably making it the least read of all of Dickens' completed novels, but there doesn't seem to be a particular reason for this. It isn't as this is the worse book he ever wrote, far from it, but it may be because it is his most 'domestic', and perhaps in some ways not the sort of book you expect from Dickens.

Mr Dombey wishes for a son to continue the business Dombey and Son, as it has been run through the years. He already has a daughter, Florence, who is six when his wife finally gives him a boy. Mr Dombey has his wish at last and everything will continue as normal - or will it? What Mr Dombey wants, and what he gets are two different matters entirely. This is a book of its time, where marriages were arranged, women were meant to be seen and not heard, rather like the children, and Man ruled the world. In his usual way, Dickens questions these practices, making him possibly one of the more socially aware authors of his day, if not the most aware. Whilst tackling the serious matters of the day, he also gives us some absolutely wonderful characters, and some great comedy.

Perhaps more tightly plotted than some of his other works and not cloyingly sentimental (apart from arguably a certain death scene) this is a great book to read. Thackery himself despaired at the famous death scene, crying that he wished he could have written like that. There are slightly more than average typos in this text, but I can't really complain too much, as it doesn't cost, and it means that I don't have to carry around my treebook version with me. Remember, just because it isn't a novel that has been recently produced for tv (the BBC shelved plans for this a few years back), don't be put off, this is well worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about railways- honestly!, 6 Sept. 2010
By 
Mr. Timothy W. Dumble (Sunderland, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Whilst this novel is undoubtedly a study in the ultimate vindication of honesty, love and innocence over avarice and pride and about redemption - themes prevading much of Dickens's subsequent work what marks it out as a great historical work is the manner in which it depicts the social and economic effects of the rapidly expanding Victorian railway system.

Dickens uniquely depicts how the railways came to alter the consciousness and thought processes of the individual eg Mr Toodle the engine fireman:'I starts light with Rob only I comes to a branch.I takes on what I finds there and a whole train of ideas gets coupled on to him...what a junction a man's thoughts is( p581).

The disruption to communities due to the rapidity of the bulding of the railway network is depicted graphically:'there was no such place as Staggs Gardens.It had vanished from the Earth.'(p.244)The ribbon development of London accelerated by the building of the London To Birmingham line is illustrated beautifully by the description of the setting of John and Harriet Carker's house:'blighted country where dusty nettles grow... neither town or country'(p515)

Dickens has produced the literary equivalent of Turner's 'Rain,Steam, Speed' painted four years prior in 1844.He depicts the destructive power and danger of the railways:'away with a shriek and a roar and a rattle...burrowing among the dwellings of men ...the track of the remorseless monster,Death!(p311).It is ironic that Dickens's awe and fear of the railways evident in this description and in the demise of Carker should see himself be involved in the the Staplehurst accident of 1865.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dombey and Daughter?, 23 Sept. 2007
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is probably the least filmed Dickens novel, but don't be put off by that. Dickens gave us a book which really showed the nineteenth century attitude to women. Mr Dombey has a daughter but it is the birth of his son that is all he is concerned about, after all it will mean the continuation if his business. This story is a very good read and definitely one of Dickens' best, a must for anyone who loves a good read. Thackery himself despaired over the death scenes and said was there any point in ever writing again. Through deaths Dickens shows us the delicacy of his writing and through remarriage and peoples scrapes he shows us yet again how brilliant he is at comedy. Dickens also shows that he wasn't adverse to Women's Lib in this book, which was written about a decade before such other novels were being regularly written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent reading of an important and fascinating novel., 18 Aug. 2013
This is a magnificent reading of one of Dickens's most important novels, and the longest. David Timson has the panache and ventriloquism which must have characterised Dickens's own public readings. He manages to animate a huge cast of characters, revealing the distinctive voices better than any rival. If you want to get to know this most frustrating of novels, listening to it is far more rewarding than trying to read it to yourself. It is, after all, how Dickens expected to be encountered. He wrote for family reading, not for silent contemplation of his words. The very features of his style which most irritate today, the use of vivid, stylised leitmotivs for each of the major players in the novel, give coherence to a huge and rambling story originally serialised over a very long period. It was essential to his purpose that everyone should instantly recognise who was on stage. David Timson's colourful repertory company of voices does the job wonderfully: he becomes each of his characters, changing costume without pausing for breath. And he knows the text so well than he keeps a tight grip on its narrative progress. It is a dazzling achievement.

Dickens is a virtuoso storyteller. Very early in his career, he was possessed of a prose style of enormous vigour and variety which could captivate a mass audience. He is most Shakespearean in his music: quite simply, he ravishes the ear and generates such narrative momentum that we are carried along in spite of our reservations because the direction and energy of travel is so compelling, entertaining and exhilarating. Like Shakespeare, he had the benefit of not going to university. His roots are in vernacular speech rather than the classics; if he ever read Jane Austen, he was mightily unimpressed; there is a vulgarity and range in his voice which couldn't be less like her poised, limited perfection. He possesses a huge vocabulary, is at home in a greater variety of registers than any other novelist, including Tolstoy. He is the antitype of Henry James with his self-conscious, constipated, narcissistic deliberations. He was always writing against an impossible deadline and had no opportunity of revising his novels because by the time he was writing chapter ten, the first few chapters were already in print. If much of his writing is slapdash, and merely filling the pages, what's amazing is that he can suddenly produce passages of prose far more original, probing and lyrical than anything in George Eliot. He has the many voices of London in his brain, the narrative brio of the Arabian Nights, Bunyan, Shakespeare and popular fiction in his bloodstream. By the time he came to write Dombey and Son, he was unrivalled as the popular entertainer of his day. But it is in this novel that we catch glimpses of something more impressive. Something echoing Shakespeare in his middle period.

Dombey and Son is an infuriating read. There are acres of transcendently vulgar mediocrity which need filing in the dustbin. Dickens lacked self-doubt, was incapable of questioning his own limitations, taste and prejudices, was subject to no editorial constraints. Like J K Rowling, he made so much money so easily that nobody was able to point out that a great deal of what he was producing was trash. He lacked any desire to discipline or refine his art. He was too impatient, too brimful of ideas to distinguish between the sublime and the crude. Once he embarks upon on an idea, he hammers away at it relentlessly, long after it has ceased to entertain or generate any dramatic interest. Most of the characters in this book are ludicrous cartoon figures: a couple of mannerisms and a simplistic attitude to life given a meagre handful of physical and verbal gestures and set going like clockwork toys. Captain Cuttle, Major Bagstock, the Carkers, Mrs Skewton, Florence and Edith Dombey, Walter Gay, Toots... these figures may have entertained Dickens and, presumably, many of his unsophisticated audience, but they are an impossibly tedious read today. Occasionally they bloom into something resembling acute, sentient and articulate human beings but most of the time they are simply dummies.

But Dickens's major blindspot is that, like all novelists, he cannot write credibly about the other sex. If this makes him no worse than Charlotte Bronte or D H Lawrence, what he lacks that they do not, is an attitude to the other sex that is founded upon respect. Dickens has such an insufferably hypocritical and patronising attitude to women that it disqualifies him from achieving genuine comparability with Shakespeare and Chaucer. If only he had been capable of reading and learning from Jane Eyre and Villete (written shortly after Dombey), what an incomparably greater novelist he would have been. Dickens preaches a condescending Victorian concept of womanly virtue which we can only find as primitive and ridiculous as the creed of the Taliban; Dickens's version of Christianity is sentimental and shallow. His stance on political and social reform is confused. For all his progressive sentiments, he lacks the courage to question the social organisation in which he is lionised.

And yet... Domey and Son, like the great novels which were to follow, occasionally gives us Dickens the visionary, the prophet who uncovers what is rotten at the heart of contemporary society. The first quarter of this novel includes some of his most distinguished writing. It's like watching a somnambulist stumble into territory nobody else has discovered or analysed so sharply or so eloquently. These revelatory passages come and go as they will do in Bleak House, Little Dorritt and Our Mutual Friend: they seem to be the work of a major poet quite distinct from the brash and sloppy hack who calls himself Charles Dickens and is responsible for the contemptible ballast by which these moments are almost obscured.

Dombey himself has something of the tragic potential of King Lear. He may be characterised as Money itself, the incarnation of Capitalism, Pride or Blindness but he is above all, a credibly flawed human consciousness, capable of error, suffering and redemption as these mighty abstractions are not. Dickens manages the diagnosis better than he handles the treatment: the second, much longer part of the novel is almost exclusively given over to caricature and melodrama so that any convincing or satisfying development of the character created at the beginning of the book becomes impossible. But the opening chapter promises something both tragic and satiric: perhaps if Dickens had not been imprisoned in the medium of serialised fiction and the need to fill so many hundred of pages, he might have produced a short story as powerful and influential as Heart of Darkness.

And the analysis of Dombey has moments of psychological insight beyond anything to be found in Captain Cuttle or Major Bagstock which makes those scenes which put such mismatched creations alongside one another almost impossible to read: it's like trying to make sense of a dialogue between Popeye and Hamlet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great, 27 Jun. 2011
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dombey and Son (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Somehow this is just not ever going to be one of my favourite Dickens'. Why? I'm not sure. The character of Dombey is like an outline, which we never really get to see the whole drawing of. His sister and her husband, Miss Tox, and several of the other characters are never really fully utilised in a way that Dickens excelled at in many of his other books. Major Bagstock, Toots and several other characters can be somewhat overdrawn and thus annoying.

And I'd have to admit I find some of Dickens' heroines to be so sickeningly sweet that I find them off-putting. Miss Dombey is one of them; Little Dorrit is another. So the books that revolve around such sweetness and light in the shape of a helpless female are never really as gripping to me as some of Dickens' other stories, like Barnaby Rudge.

Having said that, the story is well written, as Dickens always is. The plot moves along well, the story, while predictable, is enjoyable to the reader. Dickens' writing of the railways (a theme which recurs a lot in this book, and must have been topical at the time) is inspired; a living, breathing, dragon which thunders through the pages.

Not one of Dickens' best, to my mind. The plot is weak, but the writing remains magnificent as always. Essential reading to anyone who is keen to enjoy all of Dickens' works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Dombey and Son' by Charles Dickens, 25 May 2010
Dombey and Son, or to give it its full title - Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation, was written by Charles Dickens, and was first published in monthly parts between 1846 and 1848.

The book is about Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of a shipping company. It was always Dombey's dream to have a son to continue the business. At the start of the novel, Dombey gets his wish. His wife gives birth to a son whom they name Paul. Mrs Dombey dies shortly after the birth. Paul junior is a sickly child who finds it difficult to interact with others except for his elder sister Florence. The boys health detiorates until he dies at the age of six years. After the death of his son Dombey rejects his daughter whom he had always treated as being useless.

Dombey suffers from pride and arrogance and those qualities, in conjunction with one of his employee's mismanagement of the business, bring about his downfall. In order to effect his recovery, Dombey has to learn the value of family ties.

The novel illustrates some social issues of the Victorian age, namely, marriage arranged purely on a financial basis, the mistreatment of children, family relationships and the deleterious effect on people and property caused by the advance of industrialisation, particulary the construction of the railway.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic reading of a classic work, 13 April 2010
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David Timson's reading of the unabridged 'Dombey and Son' is an absolute delight. He exactly catches the many moods of the novel, where poignancy and melancholy contrast with rich comedy. And he absolutely nails the chill pomposity of Dombey himself. Flawless.
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Dombey and Son (Wordsworth Classics)
Dombey and Son (Wordsworth Classics) by Charles Dickens (Paperback - 5 July 1995)
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