A Tale of Two Cities By Charles Dickens
“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.” I shouted out loud. “This is where these words come from,” and thought - now I understand the true meaning of this sentence.
These are the final words in the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I won't tell you who said them or why, it would spoil the suspense - you have to read the book.
Many of us read this book in high school, as I did. I still vividly remember discovering Charles Dickens when A Tale of Two Cities was assigned in Grade 10 English. I started it in the bathtub - and was there long after the water had gone cold, not wanting to pause for even a moment. I spent the rest of the year reading all of the novels by Charles Dickens - and after almost forty years I’m ready to read them again.
Love from first words
I loved this novel from the very first words - another very famous line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. A Tale of Two Cities is a great book - then and now -and long before, and far into the future. I had forgotten much of the story, but had remembered only my pleasure in reading it for the first time. It is the story of the French Revolution and the people caught up in the madness of revenge.
Blood chilling descriptions
The descriptions of the people in the streets, shouting “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Death!” are truly blood chilling.
There is the guillotine chopping off many, many heads each day as the crowds cheer. There are the terrified citizens hoping they have done nothing, unintentionally, to anger the revolutionaries in their red caps, who are seeking revenge for all the years of poverty. They are imprisoning and killing anyone who they believe were royalty or aristocrats - anyone, in fact, who was well to do - or from another country, especially the English.
There is the terrifying Madame Defarge, knitting, always knitting - this image I retained, but why was she knitting? I had forgotten why - and I'm not answering that question either.
Charles Dickens is known for the drawing together of coincidences in his novels and I kept waiting in this one for things to come together, almost despairing until the very end, when a seemingly minor event early in the novel supplies the crucial bit of information when it is needed late in the novel.
Suspense and excitement
I don't want to give anything away because there is much excitement and suspense, as the characters that you have come to care for are in peril. Are they saved? Will it end happily? You will have to read it to find out for yourself, and for the pure pleasure of slowing down, reading each word, savouring the language - and reading a really terrific thriller.
This novel is suspense at its best - a literary mystery - as suspenseful and thrilling as any modern novel written by a master storyteller.