Prometheus Bound Books

What the Dickens!*

by Sue Williams
14 January 2012

As we close in on the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth on February 7th we do really have to thank the BBC for helping to bring it to the public’s awareness. Of course there are countless groups dedicated to keeping his memory alive and he has always been read widely, but it is so encouraging to see several of his books in the bestseller lists, which is not usually the case. The rather wonderful adaption of ‘Great Expectations’ was enthralling, with the added bonus of a very beautiful Pip, Burberry model no less, who would surely have attracted a younger viewer who may not have encountered Dickens before. I have my reservations about ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’ adaption, but, hey, it still pulled in lots of viewers . Being on the TV sells books, we only have to look at the enormous popularity and massive subsequent sales from any cookery series to see that. And what is more, people buy the physical book , hurrah, – is there word for this now? Paper book? 3D book?

Also, as I am sure is being repeated all over the country, indeed the world, my book club decided we should start 2012 by reading another Dickens. We went for ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ which some of us had read before, albeit many moons ago. I hadn’t and gosh I’m so pleased I am reading it now. It is unputdownable and is keeping me up until far too late reading. I couldn’t say the same for our last book – Julian Barnes’ Booker winner ‘A Sense of an Ending’, which I ended up reading twice. My opinion of it changed rather after that second reading which threw up many more unsatisfactory questions – for goodness sake why didn’t Veronica just tell him what he ‘didn’t get’! In spite of that, we all thought it was an exceptional book and it certainly was up there in the ‘how long did we discuss that?’ stakes, which says a lot.
Barnes’ book has a great first line – ‘I remember, in no particular order:’ (and encapsulates the essence of the book) but I’ afraid that it is beaten hands down by the start of ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ –
‘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,’

Hairs rising on the back of your neck?
If you haven’t read any Dickens now is the time to start.

What better description is there of the work of Charles Dickens , except that ‘God is in the detail’.

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