It was the best of times to read A Tale of Two Cities. It was also the worst of times. Reading a novel set during the French Revolution was a little bit too close for comfort during a week when the Capital of the U.S. was invaded. I did lay up unable to sleep one night. The way Revolutionaries used the Guillotine to settle old scores was harrowing, as was the presumed guilt of the accused.
On the other hand, the book was comforting. There have been worse times than these. Also, we do have mechanisms for self-correction that the French did not have. I hope we realign.
On a stylistic level I found reading this book a lot more difficult than I expected. I read a couple of of Dicken’s novels when I was younger: Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and a Christmas Story. It was a lot harder to fall into the older English than I remembered. Perhaps younger minds are simply more flexible?
Also, I found the book to be a bit over the top in the melodrama department. I found myself scratching my head and wondering if people always spoke in a way that was so … flowery.
I loved the grave robber. (Family legend is that doing a little bit o’ that is what got some of my early ancestors kicked to this continent, so I may be biased.) Dickens treated the character with great sympathy, pointing out that the doctors who used the bodies were lauded, while the grave robbers themselves were despised. There was a lot of social commentary in the book, and despite the melodrama, a lot of good insights into human character and into revolutions.
A Tale of Two Cities was free when I picked it up for my Kindle.