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on 20 May 2017
Many times I have read this book and seen films based on the book. The story of a boy taken from poverty, taken out of a life leading to crime and then into a life of comfort is a great story that makes you reaslise what those less fortunate than us can go through.

A must read classic novel but consider other Charles Dickens novels too.
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on 13 December 2015
A complete classic and some brilliant bedtime reading. I have to admit I am not much of a reader but I was suffering with a ongoing bout of insomnia so I thought rather than having todays awful pop song going round in my head on a loop I would try to read something. I logged onto the kindle app on my android phone to see what was cheap as it was unlikely I would read much of what ever I purchased. This was FREE!! thank you Amazon. I started reading it in big text so that I wasn't reading the same line more than once in that irritating way I do, I did find it a struggle at first but quickly got into it and if I can read this anyone can. I won't ruin it for you but the aliens win in the end ;-). lol
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on 8 March 2017
This is only the second Dickins book I have read, (Great Expectations being the first) I found it a heavy read. A great story there is no doubt, but I found pages of his descriptive prose a bit too much, before he then carried on with the storyline. The whole narration just did not flow as well as Great Expectations which I found a much easier read.
Maybe it is a period thing with the overly descriptive pages, it just holds the flow of the book back in my opinion.
A surprise in the end paragraph of the book, I now know the source of a well known quote!
All this does not put me off reading another Dickins though, next David Copperfield!
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on 27 November 2013
Wonderful novels they are, but works like "Little Dorrit", "The old curiosity shop", "Dombey and Son" etc tend to be lengthy reads. In "A tale of two cities", Dickens weaves an intricate, fascinating and (occasionally) amusing tale, with brevity and deftness. London is at once delightful and grim, France is a playground for the self-seeking and (sometimes) vicious "aristos" and a hell on earth for the poor - revolution brews and its echoes are felt in London. A justifiable uprising turns sour and the human impulses to good and bad are clearly revealed.
I am delighted to revisit this splendid novel via the "magic" of Kindle.
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You are browsing through the Kindle Store, trying to choose between Lee Childs, Katie Fforde, Hilary Mantell, John Le Carre, when up pops A Tale of Two Cities. Is it worth spending time with Dickens' tale of London and Paris set at the time of the French Revolution?

I have to say emphatically, "Yes". It's a classic of English literature which fully deserves its status. Thriller, romance, historical novel, spy story, tale of redemption, this superlative narrative delivers them all.

The core story is that of Dr Manette, rescued from a pre-revolutionary prison, and Charles Darnay, a Frenchman teaching his native language in England, also reprieved, from trumped up espionage charges, at the start of the book. The happy lives they build around Lucie, Manette's daughter are endangered when Darnay returns to Paris in the throes of revolution to repay a debt of honour. Around them, a typically Dickensian supporting cast including lawyers, bankers, grave robbers, embittered revolutionaries, dissolute aristocrats and saturnine road menders all play their parts.

One of the chief joys of the book is simply being in the presence of a master story teller brilliantly demonstrating his art and craft. It is beautifully structured, starting almost with an overture as Dickens sets out two of his major themes, of personal secrecy and of revolution, with, firstly, an almost heartbreaking passage in which he suggests that one of the great tragedies of death is that individuals will never truly understand what is in each other's hearts, and secondly with the breaking of a wine barrel at a bar prophesying the blood of the revolution which is to come. Thereafter the construction is fabulous, as Dickens skilfully sets the threads of his story twisting around each other, intertwining, disappearing from view, and reappearing when least expected, with seemingly minor events from one part of the story taking on major significance later in the novel. Finally, once the story has reached its conclusion, and the loose ends tied up, there is a brilliant device which succinctly tells of what happened afterwards.

The thriller element comes to the fore as the book gradually builds up pace before racing to an unbearably tense conclusion. The book's genesis as a newspaper serialisational so racks up the tension as one can almost hear the East Enders drumbeats when Dickens ends a section or chapter with a cliffhanger or shocking revelation.

As a historical novel, a Tale of Two Cities is quite stunningly violent. The portrayal of the storming of the Bastille and of the post-revolutionary Terror are not coy in their blood drenched description of events and in their generation of a genuine sense of horror at uncontrolled mob rule. However, the author doesn't give us a two dimensional picture of a blanket evil. He understands and frequently sympathises with the revolutionaries, showing them as individuals with credible desires and motivations. Dickens empathises with both the causes of the revolution and with its victims.

At times the writing style, to this modern eye, took some concentration to be able to follow the sometimes long and convoluted sentences, but it is an effort which it is well, well worth making for the repayment made by this rip-roaring adventure story.

So, this is a great work of literarture, a wonderfully crafted story, an insightful account of the humanity behind great events, and that would be more than enough, but then Dickens caps it all off by bookending a Tale of Two Cities with two of the most famous lines in English literature. "It was the best of times.....", "It is a far far better thing".

Very very highly recommended.
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on 16 May 2017
It seems odd to be asked to review what is obviously an established classic. But here goes.

The story is appealing and the characters believable. The writing is skilful - though occasionally, because the English language has moved on, I had to stop to consider what the words actually mean. Now I intend to read more of Dickens.
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on 2 July 2013
I understand why some people are sniffy about Dickens: lots of sentiment, purple prose and in places slightly hard to follow. For myself I don't mind, but it would make me think twice about recommending it to a younger reader who would enjoy the story,but who might have less patience for the flowery style and the lack of 21st c editing. That said, he writes great stories. He creates the most vivid and differentiated characters. He is really funny. He has the cleverest turns of phrase.He is really sensitive and powerful on mental disorder which seems to me extraordinary in a pre freudian age. I don't mind at all when Dickens makes me cry, I don't feel manipulated, I feel the full cathartic force of the experience and ultimately uplifted. I think the moral tenor of his writing too does not hurt at all as it makes you briefly think about being a better person and the idea of us being the sum of your actions.This feels different from other Dickens novels I have read in that it is an historical novel about the French Revolution and includes a significant amount of political commentary.
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on 20 February 2017
Like Great Expectations everything from the beginning becomes knit together as a resolution of the intertwined lives of the protagonists. Dickens explores mental illness as a pathosychology and politics (as a pathopsychology?). The naturalistic fallacy of "goodness" is explored. All of this is done so that, at times, the writing rushes you along. There is justice and injustice, punishment and redemption. I HATE Oliver Twist but this book is superb and has given me a new respect for Charles Dickens. Fabulous
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on 7 June 2015
Still gripping - downloaded it onto my phone for free so I can read another episode while waiting for the train. The good thing about it for that purpose is that because it was written in short chapters for a magazine, each chapter grips you and makes you want more. Some of it feels surprisingly modern - perhaps because of Dickens' close observation of bedlam inmates, it is not afraid to have a key character who is seen as mad and then recovers. The women are of course a bit sugary sweet. One of the heroes is a banker! The world is more mad than the individuals who live in it.
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on 25 August 2016
Dickens abandons his frequent autobiographical sources to explore the European history of a generation past.
His treatment of the themes of the French revolution are coloured by his Tory leanings, but it is a Primrose League, One Nation sentiment that is allowed to emerge, indicating the political consequences that could befall, without reform.
An emotional story of lives and redemption is moving, although there is humour.
To my mind, while some themes echo those of Victor Hugo, his characterisation is more convincing.
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