A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

   To be absolutely honest, I didn’t really want to read this book. But a friend picked it out for me and gave me a deadline- two weeks. So, rather wearily, I began to read my way through. About halfway through the second book I was completely drawn in.
The ending was incomprehensibly depressing, I can’t tell you how often I’ve cried for fictional characters. Why do I always get trapped into reading sad books (ie; The Hobbit, Joseph, The Robe)!?!
Brief summary:
Beginning with a rather paradoxical soliloquy (I suppose), we follow a menagerie of mysteries eventually leading to a macabre yet sacharine ending. Forgive the last sentence, but I really love using W.O.U.S.s (Words Of Unusual Size). 😉
We find Dr. Manette, recently released from the Bastille, a tad deranged and living under lock and key above a wine shop. Mr. Lorry, an old friend of Dr. Manette’s, finds Dr. Manette’s long estranged daughter, and together they bring Dr. Mantette to London.
The next mystery belongs to Charles Darnay, a Frenchman of noble birth who casts away both title and wealth to go live in England. Once there, he is promptly arrested as an American spy. Enter Sydney Carton, a lawyer’s assistant with a loyal love for Lucie Manette. It’s hard to say anything bad about him, but in all reality, he was rather idle and of slovenly appearance.
The mysterious Marquis St. Evremonde is the seeming epitome of cruelty. His way of life (and those like him) helped the ‘citizens’ on their path to murder.
And the last mystery envelopes a Mr. Cruncher and his family (at times I was at a loss for why they were even in the book). He is an odd-jobs man at the bank where Mr. Lorry works and is a resurrections man (a term you will become acquainted with in the book).
And so steps in the Defarge duo. Madame Defarge, a seemingly uninteresting woman who loves to knit (you get to know her better later on), and her husband, a leader of the revolution and owner of the wine shop. Madame Defarge is the leader of a rabble of women working to bring down the aristocrats. She has a lasting bitterness torward the Evremonde family.

Reasons I like it:
#1. Sydney Carton. I didn’t really focus too much on him during the first two books. The third book though….his selfless love was -AMAZING. The last chapter lasts a lifetime. If tears could be put into words it would be that chapter.
#2. Charles Darnay. He too is selfless, yet he has so much to live for. I love the way he tries to help others (and so often ends up in need of it himself).
#3. Dr. Manette. He’s a very smart man (when he isn’t lapsing into the Bastille life) and looks out for his daughter’s interests.
#4. Mr. Lorry is truly wonderful, thoughtful, gracious, and diligent. He goes to every length to care for those around him.
#5. Dickens did a magnificent job of placing you wherever the character is- as though you were in the very room. You can feel the dank dungeon air, and he makes you shudder in fear as the gaoler locks the door.
#6. The paper written by Dr. Manette was another mystery wrapped in itself. Its revelation was totally out of the blue and dreadfully somber.
#7. Miss Pross and her brother, Solomon, couldn’t have been more different. Still, both made you glad to have them nearby in the end (for very different reasons).
#8. Historical. 🙂

I’d give it 5 books (mostly because of Sydney).
Reasons I didn’t like it:
#1. Bad words.
#2. The Defarges were just awful. I did NOT like them (sure they were doing it for their country, but did they have to kill everyone? Why incarcerate all the aristocrats? Shouldn’t just those who are guilty of the crime be punished?).
#3. The knitting part was sickening when you realized why they were knitting (not to mention, strange).

I would recommend it for 16 and up, and keep a black marker handy.

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