It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair So begins A Tale of Two Cities, a perennial favourite It was an instant success when it was first published, and its popularity has remained steady ever since, as one of the best selling novels of all time For many, it is their most loved novel by Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens s second shortest completed nov It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair So begins A Tale of Two Cities, a perennial favourite It was an instant success when it was first published, and its popularity has remained steady ever since, as one of the best selling novels of all time For many, it is their most loved novel by Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens s second shortest completed novel, possibly his tightest plotted and most dramatic novel, yet in many ways it is the least Dickensian It is one of only two historical novels Dickens ever wrote, and he wanted to try out a few new ways of writing, to celebrate the launch of his new periodical At this time Dickens felt very at home in France, speaking French fluently, and identifying so much with the French character that he sometimes viewed himself as almost a Frenchman in exile He despised any parochial or narrow minded thinking he might see in English people, and frequently poked fun at them in his writing He travelled extensively, and wherever he went he carried his friend, Thomas Carlyle sHistory of the French Revolution , published in 1837, with him, reading it over and over again Dickens jokingly claimed to have read the book 500 times In truth he admired and revered his friend ratherthan the feeling being reciprocated Carlyle tended to view Dickens as a mere novelist But Dickens was determined to meticulously research the historical background to his latest work, and used Carlyle s book as a reference source Attempting to imbue his new way of writing withgravitas, Dickens tried to curb, or at least subdue, some of his own habits of fanciful imagination After criticism of his earlier slips inBarnaby Rudge , he had resolved to make this account, although fictionalised, an historically accurate a portrayal as possible Along with the less discursive style, he paid less reliance on character development and humour, bothusual indicators of his style Some readers maintain they do not associate Dickens with humour, and I personally feel that that is due in large part to their familiarity with his later works, especially this one If this is the only Dickens novel one has read, it is possible to miss much of its quirky humour A Tale of Two Cities has been dramatised countless times, and in common with many others I am drawn to each dramatisation The story is a violent and bloody one, with acts of heroism and intrigue, secrets and lies, imprisonment and torture, sorrow and loss, terror and madness, panic and frenzy It describes in detail the depth of depravity a human can sink to, and also instances the pinnacle of an almost unimaginable force for compassion and altruism The characters once read about here, stay in the mind for ever they are spell binding, whether good or evil There is much mystery, and the development of the story is so tightly plotted that the tension mounts to almost unbearable limits The horrors described are both explicit and totally believeable After much thought, then, I have rated it five stars A story which endures and continues to be retold, with images which permeate each new generation s consciousness, which is so powerfully written and can move the reader to tears each time they read it, deserves no less Do I like it No, not really I have to steel myself to read this each time But then I don t enjoy Dostoevsky either, and Dickens was one of his favourite writers So this takes nothing away from my reluctant admiration for the novel It is a deeply spiritual work, with the main theme of resurrection sitting very firmly in a Christian context Being recalled to life is a major theme throughout the novel in fact Dickens at one time considered usingRecalled to Lifeas the book s titleBuried how long The answer was always the same Almost eighteen years You had abandoned all hope of being dug out Long ago You know that you are recalled to life They tell me soOf course the story is shrouded in mystery Recalled to life refers to several strands and episodes in the story, as well as being a metaphor It is possible to enjoy the story without necessarily picking up quite how embedded in the novel all the Christian references are One might see a vaguely spiritual thread of redemption running through, and an idea of a better future life, without picking up on the myriad references to blood, river, cleansing, water, shrouds, love, light and golden threads binding families together Take one tiny but telling detail at the climax of the book,The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away Twenty Three What, if anything, might the number 23 signify The 23rd Psalm possibly A psalm which is often understood by Christians as an allusion to the eternal life given by Christ In the story, it refers to view spoiler Sidney Carton, sacrificing himself to the guillotine in the final scene In other words the 23rd victim is a Christ figure, who is willingly executed by massed crowds, baying for blood, in the culmination His death thus serves to save the lives of others, ensuring that his own life gains meaning and value hide spoiler The central message of the book is that sacrifice is necessary to achieve happiness, and this is a further pointer, reinforcing the idea Dickens liked to make his meanings crystal clear.A Tale of Two Cities has 45 chapters, and was published in 31 weekly instalments to boost the sale of Charles Dickens s new literary magazine,All the Year RoundBetween April and November 1859, Dickens also republished it as eight monthly sections in green covers This was a departure from his usual way of working, since all but three of Dickens s previous novels had appeared only as monthly instalments He was therefore under eventime constraints to write each episode, and he felt this acutely He did say at the time that he thought it wasthe best thing he had ever written , but he tended to say this a lot His marriage to Catherine was coming to a painful and very public ending, and he was embroiled in a clandestine relationship with Ellen Ternan As usual he was under a phenomenal amount of pressure, and was beginning to feel the weight of his commitmentsthan ever This is reflected in thesober feel of this novel.Although written in 1859, A Tale of Two Cities is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, and starts in 1775 It has a comparatively small cast for a novel by Dickens, and we follow just a few individuals through the years building up to the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny, in 1789, the dark years following, and the aftermath of the French Revolution Although describing cataclysmic social and political events in France, the novel brings this to life by focusing on just a few characters, and the effect on their lives The intimacy with which we know these people, is contrasted with the mass hysteria of the crowds We know these people yet we also know and recognise the menace brimming just under the surface, the seething surges of hatred and panic, the mob mentality and the evil deeds people can be driven to by centuries of oppression and poverty, the hate and revenge engendered by a callous indifference to their suffering A tiny detail from the beginning is when the cruel Marquis Evr monde kills a child by running his cart over the boy, and isconcerned with whether any damage has been done to his carriage This is an incredibly poignant scene, and we sense the brooding resentment and hatred the heartless indifference and callous cruelty of the privileged aristocracy The Marquis is an archetype of an evil and corrupt social order, almost the aristocracy s everybody , but portrayed very convincingly as an individual For those who are reluctant to believe a classic novel can truly terrify or revolt them, please think again An early depiction of a broken wine cask outside a wine shop, vividly describes the passing peasants savage and desperate scrambles to lap up any drops of the spilling wineThe time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there.Such foreshadowing makes us shudder We know from history what is to come This grotesque and subhuman behaviour indicates both the starving poverty of the French peasants, and the metaphorical hunger for political freedoms But there is no rhetoric here We read an account of the wild dance of the terrifying desperation fuelled manic ritualistic dance, the Carmagnole , and gruesome details of a person being hacked to death Dickens s descriptions force us to believe the novel s contention, that violence is a natural part of any and all humans, given the right circumstancesVengeance and retribution require a long time it is the rule When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained not shown yet always readyThe Reign of Terror is well named A surging mob ofhorrible and cruel faces the wildest savages in their most barbarous disguise hideous all bloody and sweaty howling staring and glaring with beastly excitementDickens knew people inside out Not only is one of his characters namedthe Vengeance , narrowing and focusing her personality down to one devastating aspect, but a counterpart to this is his genius at personificationThe sharp female called La Guillotine , with her unremitting thirst for blood, is the most formidable character in the entire story She is imbued with a superhuman power So strong is this image in my mind, that I automatically typed she rather than itLiberty, equality, fraternity, or death the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine It was the popular theme for jests it was the best cure for headache, it infallibly prevented hair from turning gray, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close who kissed La Guillotine looked through the little window and sneezed into the sackSuch savage sardonic writing will make you shudder Giving objects personalities is a hallmark of Dickens s writing His novels also contain many symbols and double meanings It is possible to read A Tale of Two Cities as a nailbiting adventure story, intensified by the knowledge that many of these were actual events, and yet metaphors and symbols abound We have doubles in characters, parallels and contrasts We have shadows and darkness, both literal and metaphorical The story start in gloom and mist, and the apprehension continues throughout From the very start too, we have the theme of Resurrection This can be seen as the novel s major theme and purpose, and it can also be traced in episode after episode, even down to the in joke of the novel, the resurrection man Jerry Cruncher,an honest tradesmanby day, but who spends his evenings as a grave robber, or body snatcher Resurrection men were a reality By the 18th century the medical professions were in dire need of fresh corpses to use in medical training These could only be obtained legally from excuted murderers Therefore a ghoulish trade began Surgeons and anatomists alike turned a blind eye to their provenance, and looked to resurrection men to supply their demand.The novel is peppered with other quirky bon mots,Mr Cruncher always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it but they are sadly rarer than usual Dickens had a massive public following, yet he desperately wanted to be part of the elite literary establishment, and resented the tagMr Popular Sentimentsneeringly given him by a fellow author, Anthony Trollope But Dickens could not resist his nature entirely, and did not keep a check on his impish and grotesque sense of humour Whenever the blood, gore and horror become too much we are entertained with ghoulish episodes involving Jerry Crunchers s hair raising exploits, or stories of Jerry and his wife, who function as a sort of Punch and Judy sideshow There are slapstick parts even in such a grim tale, though most of the humour is black indeed Dickens had a penchant for ghouls and ghosts, as well as positively revelling in blood curdling scenes For instance, he had witnessed a beheading by guillotine in Rome in 1845 and described a year later inPictures from ItalyIt is a careful study a detailed and close description Dickens stored everything in his mind, waiting for the proper time to reanimate these grotesque images, and did so with vigour and brutality in his scenes about the executions.We see the horrors of the guillotine, the waves of hysteria and brutishness of the crowd We see individuals blinded to reason by their passions, and swerving allegiance on a whim We witness the hopelessness and despair of those enmeshed in the threads, both metaphorically and also literally, view spoiler in the code of Madame Defarge s knitting Madame Defarge s knitting symbolises her victims fate death at the hands of a wrathful peasantry hide spoiler This strongly echoes Greek mythology, linking vengeance to fate The Fates are three sisters who control human life, weaving and sewing One sister spins the web of life, another measures it, and the last cuts it Whether or not we remember the direct reference when reading, the pointers are there A wealth of significance is waiting to seep through, or strike us like a shaft of light.And even in the midst of the unbearable horror, when we are dreading to turn the next page and are sinking in a mire of darkness and despair, we find a ridiculous death The encounter to the death between view spoiler Miss Pross, with her unswerving ridiculous faith in her English superiority,and the terrifying, fearsome, Madame Defarge, hide spoiler is both unexpected and hilarious An earlier, less experienced, Dickens would have written the former as a one dimensional comic character, yet both these two have much depth and ambiguity And ask any two readers, including all Dickens s many illustrators of this novel, to describe Madame Defarge, and you will be likely to receive two totally different answers Yet this formidable personality is one of Dickens s top creationsTell Wind and Fire where to stop but don t tell me Th r seDefarge harvests bodies a common idiom too of La Guillotine In contast, the angelicLucieManette s name means light she shines a beacon of hope throughout the novel.A theme of imprisonment relates both to the mind and to incarcerated bodies, golden threads may be three strands of beautiful hair, or metaphorically of life, as may the mending of roads There are the darkened regions both in prisons, and in the mind And there are the dark, musty, quaint annals of Tellson s bank Tellson s bank, incidentally, was based on Child Co bank which was founded at Temple Bar, on the site Dickens describes in the 1660s Dickens always used real locations wherever possible The Manettes lived in Soho Square, Clerkenwell was Mr Lorry s area, Whitefriars was where the Crunchers lived All these, and the Old Bailey, are familiar places to Londoners of today Parisians are equally familiar with the locations of the Place de la R volution, now called the Place de la Concorde, La Conciergerie prison, now used mostly for law courts, Notre Dame, La Force prison, and the Place de la Bastille Saint Antoine, where the Defarge s wine shop was located, also exists At the time of A Tale of Two Cities, the Bastille prison stood at its western edge, but Saint Antoine actually became part of Paris in 1702 Sometimes it is even possible to identify specific shops or inns At one point, two of the characters, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, walk down Ludgate hill to Fleet Street, up a covered way, into a tavern Here they havea good plain dinner and good wineVery probably this was an inn called Ye Old Cheshire Cheese , a favourite eating place of Dickens himself which had been rebuilt after the great fire of 1666.The three parts,Recalled to Life , The Golden ThreadandThe Track of a Stormeach contain several chapters, and each chapter heading is succinct, perhaps just two words, precisely describing what is to follow, without revealing it The chapter headings alone are miniature masterpieces, and a world away from his earlier sentences taking up a full page I have not told the story here, nor much about the characters, but both are easy enough to find.A Tale of Two Cities remains a novel I am ambivalent about I do not like what the author is saying to me, and that colours my view of it Even at the start of this reread, I was tempted to view it as a lesser novel Nevertheless, theI consider it, thehighly I find myself obliged to rate it If I put aside my love of Dickens, and my hopes of another,enjoyable type of novel from my favourite author, I have to rate this as a masterpiece.If you have never actually read anything by Charles Dickens, please do not start with this one Yes, you may be tempted It is short and has an irresistible storyline It s probably the one you were directed to at school, too Yes, it gets 5 stars even from me But if you read this first you will miss so much of his humour, and of his sheer joi de vivre He wanted this to be a history driven novel, where the incidents and story would fuel the action, rather than his usual sort of book, where the plot was determined by the characters and the situations they found themselves in Consequently it has a very un Dickens like feel Read it when you have a few others under your belt TryDavid Copperfieldinstead That was his personal favourite.But if you are familiar with Dickens s style, and have not yet read this, be prepared for a breathtaking ride You may need to steel yourself for a grim read, and will find commanding, powerful descriptions to chill you to your core You will find a past full of destruction, but may see a future of hope and potential And just occasionally, you will glimpse unexpected quirky moments, which could only ever have been penned by the Inimitable Mr Dickens.The ending of the novel, known and loved by millions, is like the beginning, a favourite classic quotation In both, Dickens is making use of a clever literary device anaphora He repeats a word or phrase over many lines, and this makes itrhythmic andmemorable to us We feel both that it encapsulates a rare truth, and also that it feels musical Yet our memories betray us Nobody ever says these beautiful and noble lines in A Tale of Two Cities They are said in the author s voice not by the character whom we remember as saying them The author is dreaming, and taking a step back out of the book He quite deliberately puts these words into an imagined fancy, rather than his character Surely only Dickens could have pulled this off with such conviction and such style It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known This is Tessa s favorite The book that Will grew to love It must have something special. After Eighteen Years As A Political Prisoner In The Bastille, The Ageing Doctor Manette Is Finally Released And Reunited With His Daughter In England There The Lives Of Two Very Different Men, Charles Darnay, An Exiled French Aristocrat, And Sydney Carton, A Disreputable But Brilliant English Lawyer, Become Enmeshed Through Their Love For Lucie Manette From The Tranquil Roads Of London, They Are Drawn Against Their Will To The Vengeful, Bloodstained Streets Of Paris At The Height Of The Reign Of Terror, And They Soon Fall Under The Lethal Shadow Of La Guillotine Charles Dickens is a demanding writer The narratives ofGreat Expectations andOliver Twistare relaxed and simple when compared to this Reading Dickens requires concentration, and a will to carry on when sometimes the writing gives you a headache This is a historical novel Dickens tells the story of the storming of the Bastille, some fifty years after it happened Unlike most of his work, all traces of humour are removed There are no caricatures and quirkiness within his writing This i Charles Dickens is a demanding writer The narratives ofGreat Expectations andOliver Twistare relaxed and simple when compared to this Reading Dickens requires concentration, and a will to carry on when sometimes the writing gives you a headache This is a historical novel Dickens tells the story of the storming of the Bastille, some fifty years after it happened Unlike most of his work, all traces of humour are removed There are no caricatures and quirkiness within his writing This is all very serious material, which, of course, it needs to be But, for me, this is what Dickens does best His ability to juxtapose themes of human suffering, poverty and deprivation with ideas of the grotesque, ridiculous and, at times, the plain mad, are where his real master strokes of penmanship come through.That s what I like the most about Dickens, so I knew my enjoyment of this very serious novel would be hindered immediately What we do have though is a strong revenge plot running through the book, and the revolt which occurred two thirds of the way in And, like the name of the book suggests, this is a tale about two cities London and Paris Dickens loved to criticise society, and all its stupid aristocratic nuances Here he takes great pains to show that London is no symbol of societal perfection The aftermath of the French revolution placed the British on a pedestal, at least, to their own minds They could not believe that their own current systems of ruling could cause such a travesty within their own capital Dickens shows that the men in power were just as corrupt and corruptible wherever they sit, revolution can happen againI see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known The streets of Paris are seen before and after the bloodshed, and all the strands of seemingly unrelated plots are artfully perhaps slightly forcefully woven together Dickens brings the lives of a huge cast of characters, spanning over two cities, and two nations, all of which have a varied station in life and political beliefs, into one final conclusion And it s a strong conclusion, though heavily reliant of coincident This is nothing unusual for fiction of the Victorian era, though it did feel very much like a construct The modernists would address such issues in the next century, mainly to criticise them heavily due to their incapability at capturing the essence of life within fiction Perhaps they have a point here So this is a very strong story, one that is highly perceptive and intuitive at times As a reader, I need a certain degree of entertainment when reading I find that the wonderfully comic elements that are in some of Dickens other books help to break up theintense moments of the plot Even Jane Austen would interpose her narrative with moments of scathing sarcasm and wit For me, this is far from the finest work of Dickens despite the fact that it seems to be his most popular This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here Most satisfying ending in the English language Yes, the last line is a classic It is a far, far better thing , concluding, in astonishingly concise language for Dickens , the peace and redemption of the story s most poignant romantic hero But this novel delivers such a gratifying experience because there are, in fact, many characters who cover significant emotional ground in their journey to love one woman as best they can Lucie s father battles his way back from madness under the gen Most satisfying ending in the English language Yes, the last line is a classic It is a far, far better thing , concluding, in astonishingly concise language for Dickens , the peace and redemption of the story s most poignant romantic hero But this novel delivers such a gratifying experience because there are, in fact, many characters who cover significant emotional ground in their journey to love one woman as best they can Lucie s father battles his way back from madness under the gentle protection of his daughter Lucie s childhood nursemaid evolves from a comical stereotype to an embattled force to be reckoned with Lucie s husband s well meaning if blandnoblesse obligeculminates in not his hoped for heroic moment, but a moment of quiet dignity that is most moving for its humility Even Lucie s banker reaches dizzying heights of heroic accomplishment when Dickens appoints the quiet businessman the vehicle for an entire family s escape from the guillotine.It is true that Lucie herself engages the reader less than her brutal counterpart the broken but terrifying Madame Defarge is able to, as modern readers are less moved by the swooning heroines who populate the period s literature of sensibility But we can certainly respond to Dickens powerful and vivid claim love is not only what makes us human, it is what allows us to be, at times, superhuman.And when Sydney Carton, in equal parts love and despair, tells Lucie that there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you I go to pieces Every damn time It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way Another classic down The copy of this book that I read I have owned since middle It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way Another classic down The copy of this book that I read I have owned since middle school high school so it has been with me for about 25 years I figured it was about time to get to it.The book is divided into three parts and when I got to the end of part two which is a little over 200 pages into the book , I was sure I was going to give the book 2 stars Not that I was kidding myself that Dickens would be an easy read, but I had to force myself back into the book every day because I knew it would end up being a chore.Then I hit part three.It is all worth it for part three Part three by itself is 5 stars all the way so I averaged out my overall rating to 4 stars If you are struggling with the beginning like I did don t give up I hope that you find the ending as interesting and engaging as I did.Also, thanks again to Shmoop for helping me along the way with chapter summaries I didn t have to read a summary of every chapter, but there were a few that had me scratching my head so it was very helpful having a place I could go for help Finally, while I started my review with one of the most famous beginning quotes in literature, I didn t realize that the famous quote that ends this book was from Dickens I will end my review with it but I am not marking it with a spoiler, so if you want to avoid knowing what it is, don t look down It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known 883 A Tale of Two Cities, Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities 1859 is a historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18 year long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to life in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met Lucie s marriage and the collision between her beloved husband and the people who caused her father s imprisonment and Monsieur a 883 A Tale of Two Cities, Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities 1859 is a historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18 year long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to life in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met Lucie s marriage and the collision between her beloved husband and the people who caused her father s imprisonment and Monsieur and Madame Defarge, sellers of wine in a poor suburb of Paris The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror 2003 1347 300 1346 436 1355 570 1362 520 1363 197 1368 180 1368 130 1370 225 1370 171 1374 141 1377 480 1381 482 1389 96 1389 698 1393 165 A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest itIt has been quite some time since IA wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest itIt has been quite some time since I ve read Charles Dickens, excepting of course A Christmas Carol, which is an absolute favorite of mine, and a handful of his other Christmas short stories Upon joining Goodreads eight years ago, A Tale of Two Cities was the very first book I entered as want to read Well, time flies and here I am finally having picked up my copy and actually reading this beloved by many classic While this one doesn t take the prize for most cherished of novels on my personal list, I absolutely admired this masterpiece In fact, it is a work that for me wasappreciated as a whole rather than for its individual parts I needed to complete this to fully grasp the plot and the overall merit of the novel The final portion was entirely compelling and quite brilliant, in fact This is a novel, as the title suggests, of two cities that of London and that of Paris It is a historical fiction work beginning in 1775 which then takes us further into the depths and horrors of the French Revolution There is an abundance of mystery that I was not expecting, but thoroughly enjoyed In addition to the juxtaposition of the two cities, we also see the contrasts between good and evil, hope and despair, death and rebirth As suggested in my opening quote, secrets abound and are slowly revealed Characters are drawn well, as one would naturally expect from Dickens, although I never quite felt the emotional tug towards any of them, until near the end But when I did reach this point, gosh it was worth it Sydney Carton an unforgettable man sighI have had the weakness, and have still the weakness, to wish you to know with what a sudden mastery you kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire a fire, however, inseparable in its nature from myself, quickening nothing, lighting nothing, doing no service, idly burning awayThis is a love story, a tale of injustice, of human suffering, and of sacrifice When the reader steps through the gates of Paris, one can feel the tension and sense the shadow of what is to come the atmosphere is so charged with insecurity, suspicion, and dreadThe time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many thereThe madness of the masses is frightening there are no apologies and no exceptions If you are born with the wrong blood, happen to land in the wrong place at the wrong time, or sympathize with the accused and the condemned, your life is in danger The threat of the Guillotine looms like a monster over the people of the cityEvery day, through the stony streets, the tumbrils now jolted heavily, filled with Condemned Lovely girls bright women, brown haired, black haired, and grey youths stalwart men and old gentle born and peasant born all red wine for La Guillotine, all daily brought into light from the dark cellars of the loathsome prisons, and carried to her through the street to slake her devouring thirst Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death the last, much the easiest to bestow, O GuillotineIt is heartless and pities no one, much like Madame Defarge I feel as if I should be providing ascholarly review of this tremendous work, but I m not quite up to the task and you can find a plethora of excellent anderudite reviews all over Goodreads I m really just here to express my personal reaction and feelings towards this one Quite simply, the writing is excellent, but the story itself failed to grab me initially At this same time last year, I read Les Mis rables an extraordinary piece of literature without a doubt I could not help comparing this Dicken s novel with that of Hugo s What was lacking in Two Cities for me was the existence of a character like Jean Valjean, a character so vivid and so sharply drawn that it seems I literally spent weeks in the mind of this tortured soul Probably, it is not fair to make this comparison, but there you have it I felt distanced from Dickens characters quite a bitat least for a good portion of the book I m very pleased that I persevered, however, as I was able to reap the benefits of my commitment upon finishing the last words The development of Sydney Carton was rewarding and the ending of this tale was breathtaking I don t often re read novels, but this one is certainly going to fall in the category of even better the second time around I feel certain of this My rating is at a firm 4 stars, with the hope that someday the re read will edge it up to the full 5Crush humanity out of shape once , under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms Sow the same seed of rapacious licence and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known It rarely happens that a quote from a book haunts me but this one, well, this one does I finished A Tale of Two Cities about two weeks ago, yet I m still not over the ending But how could I After all, this is one of those rare books that keep you thinking even after you finished the last page and already closed the cover of the book The most intriguing thing abIt is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known It rarely happens that a quote from a book haunts me but this one, well, this one does I finished A Tale of Two Cities about two weeks ago, yet I m still not over the ending But how could I After all, this is one of those rare books that keep you thinking even after you finished the last page and already closed the cover of the book The most intriguing thing about this all is the following though I had a really, really tough time getting into A Tale of Two Cities when I first started to read it XD The sentences were too long and complicated and Dickens writing style is lengthy and so full of superfluous words that every editor, no matter the century she he lives in, would have had a field day crossing them out lolO Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father s face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you So what happened I can t explain it, but I think Dickens s magic happened At least that s the only thing I can come up with while I m trying to explain my sudden love for this book I mean we have a little bit of comedy in here when three different suitors attempt to ask for Lucy Manettes hand, yet at the same time Doctor Manette s mental condition is making the situation as serious as it could possibly beWhat can I do for my friend No man ever can have beendesirious in his heart to serve a friend, than I am to serve mine, if I knew how Every character in here is either an angel Miss Manette or a precious snowflake Mr Lorry Charles Darnay or it s bloodthirsty and evil Madame Defarge The Marquis There is no grey area, well not unless you count Sydney Carton who is by far the most intriguing character in the entire book I loved him 3 Yes, he might have been a drunkard and I m pretty sure he suffered from depression but of all the characters that made an appearance in A Tale of Two Cities he s certainly the most honourable and pure soulIt is too late for that I shall never be better than I am I shall sink lower, and be worse And this, Ladies and Gentleman, is the true tragedy of this book That Sydney thinks he s worth nothing even though he DESERVES THE FREAKING WORLD Excuse my screaming but ADKFASKDFKASDFKSDFKASD I get all emotional just thinking about this lovable man He is worthy, he is wantable, to hell with it, I m actually going to compare him to my precious boy Adam Parrish now LOL Both of them deserve so much and they are always trying to fit in, to make their life better, yet there s always something that holds them back That makes their lives difficultYou are a good man and a true friend, said Carton, in an altered voice Forgive me if I notice that you are affected I could not see my father weep, and sit by, careless And I could not respect your sorrow , if you were my father You are free from that misfortune, however No one notices the struggle he s going through and a lot of people judge him for his actions Not outright into his face but behind his back Truth be told, I think Miss Manette might have been the only person who ever got a decent glimpse at his true character and nature And this only because he let her see it Because he loved her and because he wanted her to know that there was a part of him, the part that loved her, that actually was worthy of her love as well TTI would ask you, dearest, to be very generous with him always, and very lenient on his faults when he is not by I would ask you to believe that he has a heart he very, very seldom reveals, and that there are deep wounds in it My dear, I have seen it bleedingBut we re in the time of the guillotine, the time of change, of libert , galit et fraternit And forgiveness and compassion, let alone justice aren t truly on the agenda People like the Marquis had no mercy with their subjects and their former servants pay them back in kind Unfortunately this also means that innocent people, regardless of their actions and their lack of involvement are sentenced to death as well Casualties in a war that gained momentum way too fast And so it happens that the storyline swells to a crescendo that ends in a climax I didn t expect Boy, did that ending throw me OoIt was a beautiful ending, tragic, but beautiful, hopeful and sad And it taught me that Dickens was indeed a great writer view spoilerAre you dying for him she whispered And his wife and child Hush Yes O you will let me hold your brave hand, stranger Hush Yes, my poor sister to the last I cried an ocean reading this scene Sydney Carton deserved so much better than that What a noble and gentle and compassionate soul What a brave man that gives comfort while he s going to his death as well I can t even TT I just can t cries and ocean again hide spoiler Conclusion I really loved this book Dickens might write long sentences, he might take his time until everything gets into motion but damn, he certainly knows how to deliver a punch line If you like classics and don t mind books with a lengthy build up you definitely should go for this It was so worth it XDIt is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known 3 Things 1 I m finally doing this and I got myself some backup XDThis book always kind of intimidated me but I think with the help of this awesome boy I ll eventually manage to read it Thank you so much for doing this buddy read with me 2 Yesh I can t wait to know what Will and Tessa meant when they compared themselves to characters from A Tale of Two Cities I m sure my reread of Clockwork Angel later on this year will make so muchsense after reading this lol 3 It s Charles Dickens, AND it s about time I finally read one of his books Hundreds, thousands of stories long to have a quotable verse, just one Tale of Two Cities, Dickens masterpiece as far as I m concerned, is bookended by two of the most recognizable quotes in all of English language This is also the darkest story I have read of his, and no doubt, it s about the bloody French Revolution and Dickens spares none of his acerbic wit to demonize what was rightly demonic Yet, to his credit and genius, neither does he sugar coat the great social injustices that led ir Hundreds, thousands of stories long to have a quotable verse, just one Tale of Two Cities, Dickens masterpiece as far as I m concerned, is bookended by two of the most recognizable quotes in all of English language This is also the darkest story I have read of his, and no doubt, it s about the bloody French Revolution and Dickens spares none of his acerbic wit to demonize what was rightly demonic Yet, to his credit and genius, neither does he sugar coat the great social injustices that led irresolutely to the collapse of the aristocratic French class Lacking his usual humor, again understandable, this nonetheless again displays his mastery of characterization No character is as complete and now archetypal as Madame Defarge I thought that Bill Sykes was his greatest villain, but Citizeness Defarge was simply a portrait of evil So many stories hope for a memorable scene and this has many, highly influential since, I thought of several works that had borrowed heavily from TOTC themes especially Doctor Zhivago, many allusions to TOTC, and that also made me wonder was TOTC the first dystopian novel The scene between Madame Defarge and Ms Pross was stunning, and made me think of the riveting scene between Porfiry and Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky s Crime and Punishment Brilliant