Book Review | A Tale of Two Cities

        This book was supposed to be my nice, easy read back in March. I didn't finish this until August. As you can only guess, I have lots of thoughts and nay even opinions on this classic

         For those of you like me who didn't have this classic on their to-be-read list or requirement list in High School, here's the premise:

In Paris, the streets run red with blood. In London a beautiful young women waits for word of the nobleman she loves....
The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events.

           This book was... A lot. From the get-go, you get the infamous words that have been quoted to death a thousand times. And for good reasons. They set up the time, place, tone, and setting in one fell swoop. When it comes to performing that type of literary score Charles Dickens is a master.
Charles Dickens Being Suave
         I came into A Tale of Two Cities thinking that this would be a light easy historical fiction that would release me from the horrible hellscape that is a reading slump. Which I'm not sure is quite the word for what I was feeling during this period of my life. It was more that reading was a chore that I was so desperately wanting to take pleasure from, knew that I should be taking pleasure in and yet I wasn't. I still don't know what that was or how it came about and sadly how it went away. That being said this novel was not the book that gave me that sweet release from that reading-slump hell.
           This doesn't mean that the story was bad.
            In fact just the opposite. I enjoyed this story. I love historical fiction, it's my favorite genre across all types of entertainment. That being said, A Tale of Two Cities was simultaneously difficult to get into and yet not at all. This book was very much like its opening lines for me. It was the most difficult read, it was the best of reads. It was the age of enlightenment, it was the age of confusion...  You get where I'm going with this?
            I can't help but think that was Dickens intentions when he wrote this novel. The duality of all things which was so evidently highlighted leading up to and during the Reign of Terror. When we're finally given all the puzzle pieces as to why Dr. Manette was in prison and why Madame Defarge was out to get the Evermonde family, you sympathize with her. However, that doesn't mean that her insane plight to annihilate the entire Evermonde family is acceptable. It's quite the opposite. Charles Darnay (nee Evermonde) was only two years old when his father and uncle committed their crimes. He literally had nothing to do with it. He, nor his daughter, should have ever been on trial for sins of their forefathers. That's not to say I don't understand where or how Madame Defarge got to her conclusion.
Madame Defarge Being Murderous
            Dickens' perfectly lays out the trajectory of the hierarchy in France and Britain throughout the book. How the lower class suffers at the expense of the upper class and the upper class is indeed more often than not above the law. The law was made to protect the upper class not the lower class. Unfortunately, to this day that sentiment still holds in some cases.
             Now let's talk more about the characters!
             Charles Darnay was a bit hard to read at first, meaning I didn't know how to feel about him until his interaction with Sydney Carton. Which, Sydney, oh Sydney! What a relatable dude. Like, drunk, depressed, always catching the short end of the stick, but loving his friends (read Lucy) so much that he literally gave his life for them. Now that's a really cool character that I can get into. Sydney was immediately interesting to read about and I was always excited whenever he appeared.
             For their love interest, Lucy Manette, she was hard to understand as well. I felt that Dickens wrote he very odd. She was always crying and passing out. Which is not to say isn't relatable, it's just that almost in every scene she was doing one or the other. WHich isn't to say is a bad thing as she's going through A LOT throughout this book, but at times, it just felt like an 1850's male writer trying to write female characters and not understanding that women can express more emotions than just crying. If it wasn't for the other major female characters in this book, Madame Defarge and Mrs. Pross, I would assume that was the case but as it stands all of the female characters are as variable as the male characters. So perhaps it was just a weird feeling I got.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
              Now as for Dr. Manette, what can I say but your heart bleeds for the man. He was witness to the absolute atrocities of the French nobility and then thrown in prison for it. But then he gets to be with his daughter down the road and see her happy with her husband and daughter. Then have to relive everything he had went through and almost see his family torn apart again. The poor man!
This Was Not OKAY!
            In my video, I talk about how the ending chapters were my favorite of the entire book as they not only concluded the mysteries but also just ripped your heart out! Sydney's last chapter especially. How he sacrificed his life for Charles and then his entire conversation with the seamstress as he was on the cusps of facing his demise. I would put my most well-liked passage from the chapter here but I'd have to include the entire chapter in order to do that! When Sydney and the seamstress were talking, for I was wishing that they somehow would be able to escape their fate and be able to run far, far away...

            And yet La Guillotine still needs her sweet, sweet blood.

            In conclusion:
            I am sad.


A Tale of Two CitiesA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although it took me a long time to finish and get through A Tale of Two Cities, the ending is absolutely worth the drag and confusion. It might be because I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I picked up AToTC other than it was a Classic™ but getting into and staying into this book was very... Trying. That's why I gave it a four-star rating rather than a five. However, now that I know where it's going and how it ends there's a part of me that'd like to go back and re-read it. That being said my favorite of the three parts this has to be the third part. That part, for me, really showed Charles Dickens strengths. Whenever I read any of his work, I feel like I'm reading someone's soul. I know that sounds kinda stupid but with Dickens, you believe everything he writes. That he wrote it from a deep place and passion for the subject. Especially when he talks of love and life and lastly death. He's seen it. He's felt it and he damn well knows how to write it. A Tale of Two Cities will always have a soft spot in my heart going forward.

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                Until Next Time,


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