Oh Dickens. Oh wow.
See, I’d thought I’d struggled with Oliver Twist, but it turns out I had no idea. NO IDEA. Because this? This is struggling.
The first book is so full of vague metaphors and odd description that I just couldn’t make head nor tail of it. I like to think I’m reasonably well read and I ponce round in a courtroom often enough to understand convoluted Victorian language, but this was almost incomprehensible to me.
If it wasn’t for having the plot summary open on the The Tale of Two Cities Wikipedia page, I don’t think I’d have got through it. I spent a good few mornings text-wailing at Charlotte on the train – “What’s going oooooooon!?” I’d whine melodramatically, holding my hand to my head in despair. “I DON’T KNOW!” she’d scream frantically back at me*.
I just didn’t understand it – I have varying degrees of likingness** for Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations, but at least I understood what was going on at all times. This seemed genuinely like it had been written by an imposter and I had absolutely zero interest in continuing with it. It was gloomy, miserable and incomprehensible.
Then Book Two started and it was like ‘proper’ Charles Dickens again- dry humour and an actual story. It’s possible it just amused me because it’s set in Temple where I passed the Bar, but some of the pokes at barristers made me laugh.
The whole courtroom scene was wonderful, actually. The tension and atmosphere of the courtroom is almost a tangible presence and although I’d like to sit here and point out all the flaws in the archaic justice system, I won’t. He has some definite Opinions on the legal system and they’re absolutely fascinating.
I lost interest somewhat when the narrative jumped back to Paris but I could at least see a semblance of a story before I finished this week’s designated pages, so I haven’t given up hope yet.
Bex chose the perfect time to call a halt to this week’s reading though – right after such a gripping event (although I did have to check on Wikipedia to make sure that what I thought happened, actually happened). Now I’m kind of looking forward to discovering the repercussions!
*Artistic liberties have been taken and wild presumptions have been made during the formation of this post.
**I said I could read convoluted language, I never said I could write it.