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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep and disturbing novel
This last year I have been engaged in reading all of Dickens' novels as he wrote them, so 'Our mutual friend' should have been the last to read but for some reason or other I skipped A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's Classics) along the way. But apart from that it has been a glorious experience and a journey fully worth taking. All of his novels share certain...
Published on 2 Nov 2011 by Didier

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3.0 out of 5 stars Oxford World Classics Edition
My rating is not a reflection upon the text (which I would give 5*s by the way!) but of the Oxford World Classics edition of Our Mutual Friend. For a fairly expensive paperback copy, from a well-respected collection, this edition of Our Mutual Friend includes no illustrations! I don't understand this as the original illustrations are definitely a necessity when reading...
Published 16 months ago by Rebecca


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep and disturbing novel, 2 Nov 2011
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Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This last year I have been engaged in reading all of Dickens' novels as he wrote them, so 'Our mutual friend' should have been the last to read but for some reason or other I skipped A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's Classics) along the way. But apart from that it has been a glorious experience and a journey fully worth taking. All of his novels share certain characteristics but also have their own special appeal, and 'Our mutual friend' is no exception.

In fact, I found this novel one of the most disturbing of them all. The plot itself is fairly straightforward: John Harmon has been living abroad for years separated from his miserly father, but now that this father has died John Harmon travels to London to find that even from beyond the grave his father continues to taunt him: in order to inherit his father's vast fortune, John must marry a particular girl (Bella Wilfer). If he does not, he inherits nothing. However, by a freak accident a murdered man is mistaken for John Harmon which allows John to assume another name and personality and observe Bella Wilfer without her knowing who he is: is she worth having? And what if she isn't? Now that in itself is surely a disturbing conundrum, and not just to John Harmon. What of Bella Wilfer? Should she not feel that this will turns her into a sort of product to be bought and sold? If she accepts John Harmon, won't people think she took him for the money? And if she refuses him, will not many consider her a silly girl? Is it still possible to come to an honest decision about a suitor, knowing that you'll be not only marrying him but also his money?

To my mind Dickens explores this theme of 'deceptive appearances' in a masterly way. Many of the other characters in the book also turn out to be not what (or how) they appear at first sight or are altered beyond recognition before the novel is out: members of 'Society' turn out to be bankrupt frauds, the most sarcastic lawyer falls desperately in love with a factory girl, a gentle old man turns into a greedy miser while the proverbial money-grasping Jew is something completely different, and at times it seems there are more gentlemen amongst the poor than in the upper classes.

Which brings me to a second theme: as in many of Dickens' novels, there is also a huge element of social inquiry and criticism. Contrary to what most members of 'Society' in the novel would claim, it seems that having a lot of money is not a prerequisite to be a gentleman or a lady. On the contrary, time and again Dickens shows how money can corrupt, and how those without often (but not always, that would be going too far even for Dickens) have a true morality while the rich do not. This is not to say that all is gloom in 'Our mutual friend'. Indeed, I found it to be one of the funniest novels he wrote, abounding with hilarious characters and laugh-out-loud scenes.

Although his novels are steeped in 'realism' (in the sense that the whole setting and period is brought magnificently to life) I can well imagine that some may think Dickens utterly unrealistic. True enough, the 'good guy' usually 'gets the girl' in his novels (and the good girl also gets her guy). Whether that is a good thing (at the very least it's a comforting thought that things may turn out right in the end) or a bad thing (after all, in real life none of us are born with a guaranteed happy ending certificate) I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that I immensely enjoyed each and every one of his novels, and 'Our mutual friend' is definitely no exception!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dicken's darkest novel, 15 Feb 2011
'Our Mutual Friend' is not only Dickens' last completed novel, it is also (arguably) his darkest. Although it lacks the extreme pathos of 'Bleak House' Dickens portrayal of a society of waste, greed and corruption, where lonely characters struggle to survive in an uncaring world is extraordinary.
The sense of happy resolution of the earlier novels is gone, the bad remain largely unpunished, and the mountains of waste and the effluent and body filled river Thames, which form such haunting metaphors throughout the novel, go on piling up and flowing on. Karl Marx would surely have approved!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Our mutual friend, 6 April 2014
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Dickens five stars; Oxford two - and that's generous given the price. So many errors one wonders whether this is a cheap version and that I've been charged a premium for the notes and front cover. My cheap version has errors, but not as many, So much for the old adage "you get what you pay for". Very poor from Oxford. Save your money.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Oxford World Classics Edition, 4 Dec 2012
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My rating is not a reflection upon the text (which I would give 5*s by the way!) but of the Oxford World Classics edition of Our Mutual Friend. For a fairly expensive paperback copy, from a well-respected collection, this edition of Our Mutual Friend includes no illustrations! I don't understand this as the original illustrations are definitely a necessity when reading Dickens. I could have bought a cheap copy that would have had them in so why doesn't Oxford include them?

Also, on two of the pages there are hand-written page numbers next to chapter titles, obviously they were on the proof copy and have been photocopied through... not impressed at all, how slap-dash? Feels like this was rushed and sloppily edited/compiled. Recommend another edition with illustrations.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, 28 Nov 2012
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Compelling narrative, where someone suspected dead turns up to manage financial success, and falls in love. Describes 19th century London.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Mutual Friend, 21 Jan 2013
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Bought as a present. He liked the book but I should have got the cover that fitted in with all his other books, I think penguin do it. But otherwise book is good and arrived on date predicted.
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