Top positive review
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A wonderful, sprawling read
on 7 August 2002
What can you say? Dickens writes brilliantly.
This entertaining saga follows the handsome eponymous hero through the slings and arrows that follow him into adulthood.
All I had heard about before was Wackford Squeers and Dotheboys Hall, but that is mostly over by the end of the first quarter.
As usual, the plot is a bit pointless but the characters are fantastic, and I thought the cameo role for the villain Mulberry Hawk led to some of the best bits of writing in the book, in particular the description of a drunken argument that leads to a duel. Dickens is such a good writer that he can toss off sensational bits of writing like this on bits of the plot that are far from crucial. His talent just can't be contained.
This, though, is the ignore the main part of the drama as Nickleby fights to overcome the injustices that assail his family. The book certainly has some powerful moments, as well as genuinely funny comic interludes.
Of the characters, Smike is the most tragically drawn and perhaps the most famous: I am not sure that authors today would treat mental impairment the same way, but that is perhaps a failure of today's readers and writers.
I suppose I don't think this novel has the depth of later work like "David Copperfield", which covers similar material, but it is still leagues ahead of most things you will read.
Thoroughly enjoyable and full of humanity.