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84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most unforgettable opening and closing sentences ever found in a book!
I will never, the rest of my life forget these two sentences. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." and at closing "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."

Wow, this is not your usual Dickens...
Published on 1 July 2007 by Misfit

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Melodrama - Shame About Most of the Characters...
I had been meaning to read this for ages. It has very stirring opening and closing sentences, for sure, and it's a good read overall, if melodramatic (but then, what Victorian didn't love a bit of melodrama?).

The background informtion is well researched (I believe Carlyle lent Dickens books) and Dickens goes out of his way to depict the barbaric treatment of...
Published on 25 Feb. 2012 by Mary Ann


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84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most unforgettable opening and closing sentences ever found in a book!, 1 July 2007
By 
Misfit (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I will never, the rest of my life forget these two sentences. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." and at closing "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."

Wow, this is not your usual Dickens. No quirky characters with strange names and laugh out loud moments, just a darn good story -- the story of two cities, London and Paris. It is difficult to put the plot into words, but when the book begins you are in London at the time of the American revolution and spies (or suspected spies) abound, and the story eventually switches to France prior to and during the French revolution.

Dickens does a marvelous job (as always) of building his story one step at a time and slowly peeling back the layers one at a time. This is not a put down and pick it up a week later kind of a book, it is very intense and complicated and you have to pay close attention. I was just floored at how he sucked me in with his descriptions of the mobs, terror and the madness of the revolution leading you to a nail biting finish. I admit to holding my breath during those last few pages!

Highly recommended, and well worth the time to discover (or rediscover) an old classic.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Kindle., 20 Nov. 2010
By 
Mr. Ian Gillibrand "A dreamer" (Cornwall.UK) - See all my reviews
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This review will not focus on plot specifics or characters, which have been described very well earlier, but on what Dickens can offer a modern reader.

Well thanks to the free/low priced classics available on my new Kindle I have been tempted at last to try a Dickens.
As a voracious reader of modern British and foreign novels I had nonetheless been intimidated to an extent at the thought of reading Dickens and could not have been more wrong.

As a description of the "madness of crowds" during the French Revolution, whilst at the same time bringing the back stories of the individuals caught up in the events into focus.

As well as the famous first chapeter and the last which I found incredibly moving the whole book revealed the brilliance of Dickens' writing in both and observational and stylistic sense.There is humour and cynicism in the book as well as the developing drama around the main characters and i would heartily recommend this book to anyone (like myself) who was uncertain as to whether Dickens could still be enjoyable or relevant today.
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turbulent times in London and Paris, 27 April 2005
By 
Peter Reeve (Thousand Oaks, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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The period from 1775 - the outbreak of the American Revolution - to 1789 - the storming of the Bastille - is the turbulent setting of this uncharacteristic Dickens novel. It is his only novel that lacks comic relief, is one of only two that are not set in nineteenth-century England and is also unusual in lacking a primary central character. London and Paris are the real protagonists in this tale, much as the cathedral was the 'hero' of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. Dickens was writing at a time of great turmoil in his personal life, having just separated from his wife, and no doubt the revolutionary theme was in tune with his mental state.
The result is a complex, involving plot with some of the best narrative writing to be found anywhere, and the recreation of revolutionary Paris is very convincing. The device of having two characters that look identical may seem hackneyed to modern readers, but it is here employed with greater plausibility than in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson or Collins's The Woman in White.
Dickens was inspired to write this story by reading Carlyle's newly published history of the French Revolution. Those events and their aftermath stood in relation to their time much as World Wars I and II do to ours, that is, fading from living memory into history, yet their legacy still very much with us. In many nineteenth-century novels, especially Russian and British works, you get a sense of unease among the aristocracy that the revolution will spread to their own back yard. In the case of Russia, of course, it eventually did.
I have often recommended A Tale of Two Cities as a good introduction to Dickens for younger readers. This is based on my own experiences, because it was a set book in my English Literature class when I was 15 and I remember thoroughly enjoying it. Yes, it is challenging, with its somewhat archaic language and its slow development, but you cannot progress to an enjoyment of great literature without being challenged.
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65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!, 14 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
In most of his novels, Charles Dickens sticks to one central theme - love. "A Tale of Two Cities" faithfully adheers to this principle, yet, as with every Dickens book, retains a certain individuality and freshness.
The story is perhaps a little slow to start, but that matters little. Not only is it difficult to stop reading the novel after a while, given the many little mysteries Dickens hints at throughout, but it is next to impossible not to be absorbed into the lives of the central characters and feel a certain closeness to them. It also notable that the devoted love displayed by so many of the novels cast does not seem at all implausable or out of place, despite the cold and uncaring backdrop used - the French Revolution
"A Tale Of Two Cities" leaves you feeling both thourghly happy and extremely sad, such is the skill with which Charles Dickens - beyond any doubt a master of his craft - tells this moving tale.
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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)   
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
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"...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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!, 1 Dec. 2011
By 
Harry the book monkey (Citizen of the world) - See all my reviews
This is really an excellent book. If you are not too keen on picking up one of the more voluminous Dickens's tombs I would suggest this book without reservation. The opening contains one of the best know beginnings in English literature and although the first couple of chapters can be a little tiring because they are setting the scene, the rest of the book is quick paced. This is mainly due to the fact there are no lengthy descriptions of what people are like or what they are thinking, instead character are drawn from their actions, making for a concise an exciting story. Something I enjoyed was noticing how much the number two figures in the story. The title of course refers to two cities, but also certain scenes are acted out twice, for example Mr Lorry talks to Lucie in a particular way in book one and then the same particular way of speaking is again used in book two when Mr Lorry is speaking to Dr Manette. In more mundane examples are that Charles Darnay has two names and Jerry Cruncher has two jobs. It gave me much pleasure spotting instances of the number two whilst reading.

One particular thing to note about this penguin edition is the copious introduction, end notes and appendix. These are all very interesting and well worth reading, however if you have not read the book, or do not already know the story, avoid reading these as they give to much away and ruin the surprises and lessen the suspense for the reader. Unfortunately this is true of the end notes as well. although I enjoy reading end notes to help my understanding I would suggest attempting to read the novel without any reference to the notes, introduction and appendix if its your first time reading and perhaps refer to them only if you are re-reading. It will maximise your enjoyment if you do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 18 Jun. 2013
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"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."
Since reading these closing lines, this story has haunted me with its tragic tale of turbulent times and a man called Sydney Carton who, accepting his fate of being a broken man, lays down his life so that the woman he has loved for years could be with the man she loves.
The story had such a profound affect on me that I honestly don't think I can do this novel justice in words. The descriptions of the mob mentality, the sinister character of Mrs Defarge and the guillotine were so vivid I was left contemplating the human capacity for violence and revenge for a long time. At the same time, the story of the love that bound Lucie to many of the characters, Dr Manette, Charles Darnay, Mr Lorry, young Lucie and Sydney Carton gave a polar opposite impression of the human capacity to love so deeply and in so many different ways, whilst enduring times of suffering and uncertainty. Sydney Carton's sacrifice led to one of the most emotional and heart-rending closing chapters I have ever read. Despite awaiting the horrifying and tragic end which he has condemned himself to, he has an air of peaceful and almost grateful detachment and acceptance that he has been given a chance to redeem himself for his unsavoury existence.
The first few chapters start slow but I found myself drawn into the book and, before I knew it, I was woven into the characters lives and could not put it down. It does not have Dickens' usual humorous characters but this only goes on to highlight what a tragic and brutal time in history this was.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Master Novel, 1 Nov. 2003
This Dickens novel, as his others, is written in a delightfully clever way. It makes the historic tale, mostly of France, come alive through the rich character and situation description; it makes the historic tale become interesting by the wit (and ocassional sardonic pokes) with which it is told; it makes the historic tale come alive by enticing you to laugh, suffer and rejoice with the characters. As all good novels, the end reveals surprising twists in the tale that create a great climax. A true masterpiece...the word recommendable just isn't strong enough!
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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)   
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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A Tale of Two Cities (Naxos Complete Classics)
A Tale of Two Cities (Naxos Complete Classics) by Charles Dickens (Audio CD - Sept. 2005)
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