What better way to really start of ATOTC Blog Week, than with a review of the book that started the whole thing? I've been studying the book for English Literature this year (and last year), but I'm not going to be getting into the symbolism and detail, and all that jazz (seriously, I think English teachers/courses get wayyyyy more out of classic books than the authors intended – just my opinion). There have been probably thousands of reviews of this book, as well as essays, analysises, even whole books, so at first I really wasn't sure what the point in reviewing it was. But, no event dedicated to the subject would be complete without it, so here I go.
A Tale Of Two Cities (hereafter abbreviated to ATOTC) has been put down by critics and readers of Dickens' works alike, as being a 'little' book, and very unlike Dickens' usual style. I can see where they're coming from – it's one of only two historical novels Dickens wrote, there aren't a million secondary characters with weird names, and even the writing style, at times, is different from many of his other books. However, it's my second favorite Dickens book (after Great Expectations) and I think it has just as much right to be called a classic as any other of his books. It has amazing themes, symbolism, humour, tragedy, amazing characters...what more could you want out of a classic?
Honestly, so much has already been said about the characters and plot...I really find myself at a loss for words. So how about I talk about my own personal experience with ATOTC and intersperse it with my Opinions on Certain Things? Yes, I think that'll work quite well. To begin, my first introduction to ATOTC was a tiny comic book edition (don't ask). It confused me greatly (I mean, I 'understood' it when I read it, but thinking back to it now, I had a lot of strange ideas about the story). I thought that Sydney actually proposed to Lucie (I guess the romantic subtleties escaped me) and other such things. I also read the Great Illustrated Classics version – wasn't really impressed. Then, I grew up, and read friends' reviews of the book and really, really wanted to read it. However, my mom said no, because I'd already read so many classics she had been planning to teach me, that she wanted something left over (I'll bet not many English Lit teachers have that problem).
Anyway, to make a short story shorter, I started reading it in eleventh grade, and even though the essay questions that go with each chapter are hard, I'm still loving it. I'm writing this post ahead of time (to schedule it, you know) so by the time you read this, I'll most likely be done the book. I went ahead and read the whole thing (although I did pace myself – do questions for a chapter, read three chapters ahead, and so on) so I've already cried over the ending, but I'll probably do it again when I officially reach the end (whether it'll be from Sydney, or tough essay questions is a whole different matter). I already knew what was going to happen (who doesn't? It's got to be one of the most famous endings in literature) but that doesn't make it Any Less Painful, y'know?
It doesn't seem like I really put in my opinions on the characters so...favorite character: Sydney. Least favorite character: Barsad...blah, blah, blah – put in all the cliched answers to all the cliched 'questions' you're supposed to ask yourself in a review :P However, you'll be hearing more about Charles, Lucie, and the Defarges this week (none of my posts have anything to do with Sydney, though, because everyone knows everything there is to know about him, so let's break the mold, shall we? Although I do think one of the guest posts is at least partially about him). This has been a Rather Irregular book review (much different from my other ones – oh, wow. Have you noticed the frequency in which I used parentheses in this post?) but I hope you all enjoyed it. And you might have noticed I didn't put a single book quote in here. That's because the next post is going to be chock-full of them...