A TALE OF TWO CITIES by Charles Dickens | Book Talk

1953My rating of the book: 5/5 stars

So this book makes me cry… and I’m finally ready to fully review it.

The story opens with an overview of the times and one of the most iconic opening lines in the history of literature: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (Dickens, 1). We then jump into the story of Lucie Manette and her father, Dr. Alexander Manette. From there, the story of the Manettes intertwine with that of the Evermondes as well as a young lawyer by the name of Sydney Carton.

This book is one of my all time favorites and is definitely one of my favorite works written by Charles Dickens. The story is very elaborate and the characters are characters that you can never forget.

The characters in this book are stellar like many of Charles Dickens’ characters are. Sydney Carton is quite possibly my favorite literary character of all times. He never ceases to baffle me and I think that it’s interesting to see how people interpret him because everyone seems to have a different opinion about Sydney Carton and his reasons for doing certain things.

Before I go to spoilers, I just thought that I’d tell everyone that there is a musical adaption of this book that is, in my opinion, quite wonderful indeed! If you’r a fan of this story, then I’d highly suggest you look into this musical! The music is wonderful and the finale is so moving that I cannot listen to it without crying.

That being said, I think that it’s time to get into some spoilers…

“It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.”

So many tears. So, so many tears.

One of the charms of this book is that there are so many things to consider. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Do you sympathize with Madame Defarge or do you hate her? There are so many different things to think about and discuss.

I don’t think that anyone will deny that the Marquis is a well… despicable person (to say the least). Most of (if not all of) the conflicts in this book can be tied in some way to the Marquis.

Now, one of the characters that I think is the most controversial in terms of who sympathize with her and see her as completely irrational is Madame Defarge. Personally, I feel that she is a splendidly written character. In Madame Defarge, Dickens accurately portrayed radical revolutionaries during the French Revolution. I don’t think that anyone will say that she is unjust in her anger, though at the same time, most will agree that her ideal of ridding the “race” of the aristocracy. Nonetheless, this is a very accurate representation and portrayal of how Paris was during the French Revolution, particularly in the years 1793-1794 (in which the Reign of Terror was in full swing).

Now, on to Sydney Carton. Sydney is not your typical hero type of character. He sees himself as a hopeless failure at life and that really never changes throughout the book until the very end. At the very end, Carton seemingly finds a new side to himself. The man who said “I am like one who died young. All my life might have been.” sees great good in what he is doing for the sake of Lucie and Charles in his death. I really could talk about the great character that Sydney Carton is all day, but my thoughts get really jumbled when I try to type them up so I’m just going to stop there.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

This book is filled with so many iconic characters and quotes. Who is your favorite character? What is your favorite quote? What is your favorite novel by Charles Dickens?


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