We had everything before us, we had nothing before us.
That’s an excerpt from the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities. The “best of times” bit is the only part that’s ever quoted, but the whole thing’s pretty good. And this bit in particular sums up how I feel upon finishing this book and this read-along. On the one hand, well, that’s done (or as the Habs might say this week, “c’est tout.”) On the other hand, TOTC is like many classics: once you get that first reading out of the way, there’s lots more to discover.
I rated TOTC 3 out of 5 stars, which says more about my enjoyment than my judgement of its literary merit. There was some hard slogging in this book, and while the payoff was worth it, there are plenty of books, including many 19th century classics, that don’t require such determination and faith.
The readers-along (yes I will always use this construction now, even though it sounds super pretentious) were split between those who DNF’d, those who found it a slog, and those who absolutely loved it. I am suspicious of books that everyone loves (or hates) so the fact that TOTC creates different reactions is a good thing!
- Beautiful and horrible imagery. Wine, blood, and the grindstone were my favourites.
- The motif/theme/whatever of doubles. I didn’t really *get it* per se, but I’m sure someone has created a list of all the doubles in this book, beyond the two cities and Lucie’s look-alike suitors.
- Soap opera shenanigans. I mean, drugging someone and stealing their identity is some Day of our Lives level shit.
- Awesome supporting cast. Miss Pross the Boss and Terrible Therese are such fun to read.
- Lucie. Why are you so boring? Why do you either show no emotion or over-the-top weirdness about your dad? Just why?
- Not enough Sydney. I wanted to know a little more about why he was so down on himself. I kept thinking Dickens would reveal some big bad secret, something terrible he did in years past, but… he just drinks a lot? Didn’t everyone drink a lot back then?
I’m proud to say…
- I have read Dickens. I will book blog AND watch A Muppet’s Christmas Carol with more confidence.
- I learned a fair bit about the French Revolution. It’s been a while since grade 11 social studies.
- I did not make any dick jokes during this read-along.
- A lot of us are talking about our next Dickens. I will probably go with another well-known novel like Great Expectations or Oliver Twist. Both are good excuses to watch the movies! (90s version for GE and 60s version for OT.)
- May sound strange given my mid-range rating, but I think I will re-read TOTC one day. I re-read the first three chapters, and holy, were there a lot of things I did not pick up on. Jerry was already implying that he was graverobber, for example.
- Reading in Bed’s next read-along? Maybe next year. I like this once-a-year thing I’ve got going on. Not to say I won’t participate in others. I will. Let me know what events are coming up on your blogs!
Readers Along React
- Ebookclassics accuses Dickens of drawing out the suspense longer so he could go clubbing with Wilkie Collins. Sounds about right.
- If you wrote a review, let me know and I’ll post it!
And the winner of the Out of Print Tees shirt is…
Cait of 1227 Miles!
YES she is my sister. I swear I used a legit random number generator. She finished the book and participated (and has an interesting theory about Madame Defarge’s death, ask her to tell you!) and says she might even write a review. I’m always trying to bring people over to the dark side of book blogging so I am pleased.
Since she didn’t want the boys-only TOTC shirt, she decided to get Animal Farm. And *I* decided to treat myself to Wuthering Heights. Because I’m worth it.
Thank you for reading along!